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Thread: Technical Question....

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2006

    Default Technical Question....

    I know that breast milk changes as a baby grows, and I think this isamazing. I am one of those people that likes to know how things work, so...

    1. What exactly is different between milk produced for a newborn, and milk produced for an older baby?

    2. How does your body know how to make the milk just right? Is it a hormonal thing? Does it just have to do with time elapsed since childbirth, or are there other factors?

    Thanks, breasfeeding experts !!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2006

    Default Re: Technical Question....

    I'm not an expert, but what I remember reading is that the biggest change between young-infant and older-baby breastmilk is in the antibody levels. As a baby becomes mobile and starts crawling or walking, he gets into more stuff and gets exposed to more and more germs. Through nursing, he exposes mom to those same germs, which triggers her immune system to produce antibodies for each of those germs, and the antibodies promptly start showing up in the breastmilk. So there are signficantly higher levels and more diverse antibodies in, say, a toddler's breastmilk than a 2mo's.

    I'm not aware of changes in the main nutritional components of breastmilk (protein, carbohydrates, fat) over time -- once the milk has changed fully from colostrum to mature milk, at least.

    There may be more going on with breastmilk of a premie -- I don't know about that, or how the process works.

    It really is amazing, this thing our breasts just know how to do to nourish and nurture our babies.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2006

    Default Re: Technical Question....

    Those are great questions! Many of them are answered in this article here:

    Which includes a list of references. You might want to dig deeper...there are some excellent books on the subject. Some of this is covered in the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, but your La Leche League Leader can probably loan you even more from your local LLL lending library. If you don't already go, attending LLL meetings is a great way to meet other moms with children your kids' ages, to learn more about breastfeeding, and to offer your support to other moms with newer babies. Here is a link about how to find a group close to you:

    I hope this is helpful! Asking these questions is great. There are some great researchers out there in the field of breastfeeding, Dr. Newman (Canada) and Peter Hartmann (Australia) are two of the ones I'm currently interested in.

    Best wishes
    Karen Smith
    LLL Leader, IL

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