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Extracted from Survival Guide to Midwifery, 2nd Edition (2012) Diane M. Fraser and Margaret A. Cooper, Oxford; Churchill Livingstone: 2012. Courtesy Elsevier
Human milk varies in its composition. The most dramatic change in the composition of milk occurs during the course of a feed. At the beginning of the feed the baby receives a high volume of relatively low-fat milk, but as the feed progresses, the proportion of fat increases. The baby's ability to obtain this fat rich milk is not determined by the length of the feed but by the quality of the attachment to the breast.
It is the fat and not the protein in human milk that has particular significance.
Human milk also provides carbohydrate, in the form of lactose; protein; vitamins A, D, E, K and C; minerals and trace elements, including iron, zinc, calcium; anti-infective factors including leucocytes, especially in the first 10 days of life when there are more white cells in breast milk than in blood; immunoglobulins; lysozyme; lactoferrin; bifidus factor; and hormones and growth factors.
The Practising Midwife featured articles
Human Milk: Medicine for Premature Babies 2011; 14 (11): 32 Author: Sioned Hilton
Breastmilk breaks new boundaries 2012; 15(7): 37-39 Author: Sioned Hilton
Infant Nutrition Council (Australia & New Zealand). Breastmilk information. http://www.infantnutritioncouncil.com/resources/breastmilk-information/ Ballard O, Morrow A. Human Milk Composition: Nutrients and Bioactive Factors. Pediatr Clin North Am 2013; 60(1):49-74 Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3586783/