The composition of breast milk is ideally matches baby’s needs and changes accordingly as he grows. There are no infant formulas, which in their composition could correspond to the composition of colostrum or milk in the first week of lactation.
Components of the breast milk
This the the most volatile component of the mother’s milk: fat content in the milk changes during one feeding, it’s not stable during a day and during baby’s growth changes according to his energy needs. At the beginning of feeding the milk contains low fat percentage and gradually it goes up until the baby gets to the “cream” - last portion of milk that contains the highest fat percentage. This type of milk has the factor of saturation which gives the sense of satiety and baby stops suckling.
Mother’s milk not only surpasses cow milk (included in the mixtures) in its fat content, but also being better digested. It contains lipase - an enzyme the body uses to break down fats in food so they can be absorbed in the intestines. Essential fatty acids contained in the breastmilk are being part of the myelin sheaths of nerve fibers, which ensure the rapid passage of nerve impulses.
This is the basis of the body growth. High-quality proteins play a particularly important role in the first year of baby's life, since at this time he grows much faster than at any other.
Mother's milk contains proteins designed specifically for the growing baby. Any milk contains two-basic proteins: whey protein and casein.Whey protein is very easy to digest in the baby's intestines. Casein, involved in the milk curdling, is digested somewhat more difficult. Mother’s milk contains mainly whey protein (in contrast to the cow, which is a part of the mixture that contains mainly casein).
The mother’s milk protein is more "light" than the cow's milk protein, contained in the milk mixtures. For this reason, breastmilk doesn’t stay in the baby's stomach for long, and quickly enters the intestine, while the milk mixture is retained in the stomach for 2-3 hours.
Mother's milk contains more lactose (milk sugar) than animal milk (20-30% more than cow's milk). In the mixture, sucrose or glucose is added to approximate it to taste of the breast milk. Meanwhile, milk sugar is necessary for the development of the central nervous system of the child, in particular, the substance of the brain. The researchers found that the higher the lactose content in the milk of a mammal, the larger its brain. Lactose also improves the absorption of calcium, necessary for bone growth. In addition, it promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestines of the baby.
Up to 50-70% of iron contained in breast milk passes to the baby. As for artificial feeding, only 10% of the iron contained in cow's milk comes into the blood, and only 4% comes from the mixtures.
- Protective substances
Mother’s milk contains components that destroy the infection, or do not allow its development in the baby's body. These are white blood cells and antibodies (immunoglobulins). Thus, mother's milk protects the child until he develops its own protective system (immunity).