A first-time mother rushed her 3-day-old neonate to the emergency room for diarrhea and vomiting. She thinks that her first breast milk, which is yellowish in color, is the cause of her child's condition. She asks the nurse if she should feed her baby with formula milk instead of breast milk. How should you answer her?


• For the first 3 or 4 days after birth, the breasts produce yellow and watery colostrum before breast milk "comes in."

• The colostrum is very concentrated and low-volume for newborns' immature digestive systems, providing high concentrations of protein, sugar, fat, water, minerals, and vitamins. Also contained are maternal antibodies and lymphocytes to fight off illness. It has a mild laxative effect to help the infant pass its first stool (meconium), which help clear bilirubin and prevent jaundice.

• Breastfeeding may actively prevent diarrhea by providing more antibodies and an intestinal environment less friendly to invading organisms.

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