As you’ve probably noticed by now, your body during pregnancy does some truly amazing things. Before you even know what’s going on, your body will have prepared itself by releasing the proper hormones to relax your ligaments, created a direct-line of nutrition to your growing baby and extracted the necessary resources from your diet to promote development. You won’t need to do much to prepare aside from staying healthy and making sure your home is ready for a new family member. One of the most amazing feats your body will perform late in the third trimester is the automatic production of special breast milk called colostrum.
If you start leaking any fluid from your breast in the third trimester, what you are seeing is not breast milk in its pure form. Instead, it’s colostrum. Colostrum is a pre-milk substance that is full of immunoglobulins and antibodies. This “high octane” breast milk will protect your baby from infections for the first few days and it will also assist in his or her first bowel movement. Colostrum is not white like breast milk but is instead clear or golden. Compared to babies that are given formula right after birth, babies that have consumed colostrum are less likely to have digestive problems, and they will be better protected against diseases and infections. Don’t wait until your breast milk is clear and abundant to feed your baby. Instead, take advantage of the natural vaccine that your body provides and feed your baby right away to protect him or her. Once again, your body will have surprised you by knowing exactly what to produce and when to produce it.
After the first few days of breastfeeding your baby, you should consider contacting your doctor if your breast milk is still not white and flowing. However, if you’re producing colostrum, your breast milk will be soon to follow.
Some women are hesitant to feed their baby in the hospital after delivery because their breast milk doesn’t seem “normal.” Abandon this fear, because that abnormal breast milk that you’ll be making in the first few days of your baby’s life is possibly the healthiest thing he or she will ever consume. It is as good as an expensive and painful flu shot, and it will help protect your delicate newborn from the common illnesses and infections that can be contracted in the first few weeks of life.
Source: N.B. Marthur et al: Anti-Infective Factors in Preterm Human Colostrum. Acta Pediatrica Volume 79 Issue 11 pp. 1039-1044 January 2008