In ancient times, it was recommended that the mother should not feed the infant for the first 6 days after its birth. After 6 days, when the newborn was fed mother’s milk for the first time, it was an ocassion for festivity. In India, it was called Chatti, and the breast-fed milk was called chatti ka dodh.
This thick yellow milk today secreted in the first few days after delivery is called colostrum. Colostrum is a storehouse of nutrition. Colostrum has much more nutrition as compared to the regular milk that comes after the secretion of colostrum subsides. Modern science advocates feeding colostrum to the infant, on account of the massive nutrition that it contains.
However, more is not always better. Adquate is better than more. We don’t need more nutrition, what we really need is balanced nutrition. The nutrition that we derive from a food depends more on our capacity to digest it and not on the total amount of nutrition that the food contains. Colostrum should be avoided as the first food for the newborn. Ayurveda says that the digestive system of the infant is not prepared to handle anything heavy to digest.
Colostrum has a very high amount of proteins as compared to normal breast milk. Proper protain digestion needs a good amount of proteolytic enzymes, and according to modern science, there is almost no pepsin-induced digestion in the infants for a maximum of 2 weeks. Feeding Colostrum is almost similar to feeding grains to the infant.
The infant’s intestine is very mild and immature. It cannot tolerate exposure to heavy concentration of digestive enzymes required to digest heavy food. Besides, the quality and amount of digestive enzymes is also not sufficient for proper digestion of colostrum.
Now when colostrum is under-digested, it can create underdigested toxins. Good amount of digestive acid also acts as a preservative and prevents food decay inside the intestines. However, this underdigested food rots inside the alimentary canal in absense of the preservative effect of digestive juices.
Probably, that’s why fecal matter of a colostrum fed baby is green-black and sticky even after expulsion of muconium, whereas that of a normal breast milk fed baby is mustard colour or yellowish.
The toxins thus formed can cause severe damage to babies immature and tender digestive system. Besides, according to recent scientific researches , excess protein intake can cause severe lifestyle disorders lie diabetes, cardiac problems and even cancer. Such children might develop a lot of digestive problems, allergies and autoimmune disorders in their later years.
It is important the tender digestive system of the newborn is not over-worked. Overburdened body parts quit their jobs eventually , for example a pancreas with zero insulin secretion or, thyroid with low thyroxin.
Now many scientists argue that milk contains protease that helps in protein digestion inside infant’s stomach, true. But now what should we research on is the quality and quantity of protease present in colostrum, and whether it is sufficient to digest the high amount of nutrition present in colostrum.
Ayurveda is not against breast-feeding. Infact, it is the oldest science that says that no solid food grains or outside food should not be fed to the newborn before 6 months of age unless the quantity of mother’s milk is not sufficient for its growth. Modern science also agrees to this concept today.
Today we find that babies are growing obese, which was almost non-existent a few decades back. Many of these babies are force-fed highly nutritious and fortified food. They need force feeding probably as they have lost their natural hunger.
And you need more taste stimulants when the kids are not naturally hungry. And that’s why we see so much food with excess salt, sugar, fat and taste enhancers. Later in life, there is more possibility of these kids to be led more by their tongue than their stomach. This tendency makes them highly susceptible to all kinds of lifestyle disorders. Sometimes I wonder whether highly nutritious colostrum is the reason behind all this.
No breastfeeding for the first 6 days also helped the mother to recover faster, as her metabolism is not burdened with lactation. It also helped her to produce a better quality and quantity of breast-milk later. Also, if we do not force the mothers to breastfeed from the day one and give them a holiday for days after delivery, it might also help them to recover emotionally. This can effectively prevent post partum depression in many mothers.
And what happens to the colostrum if the baby is not feeding on it? This highly nutritious fluid gets reabsorbed in mother’s body and helps it to heal faster.
Ayurveda is also one of the oldest science that describes defects of the mother’s milk and its remedies. Like all other body fluids, milk can also have defects which can be corrected. We can discuss about it in our next video.
But if the infant should not drink mothers milk for the first six days then what should the little one drink? Infant formula? ….Ayurveda recommends that newborn baby be should be fed diluted cows milk for the first six days after its birth. This diet will allow enough time for two babies intestine to develop properly and accommodate the new food. Overburdened body parts quit their work just like in the case of malfunctions in a fatty liver or insulin less pancreas. Overburdened intestine might also react similarly.
Ayurveda prohibits feeding colostrum to the babies. However at the same time, it describes the properties of colostrum, and how it is excellent for human consumption, however, it is still recommended to consume cause college from only if you have excellent digestion. There are many animals like calls elephants camel where the babies drink the colostrum and colostrum, and they do not face any problem undefined. However, we should note that these babies are born equipped to walk even Run only a few hours after birth. I assume that the digestive system must be equally equal to handle a heavy dose of colostrum as well. However human babies are for different than all these animals.
This entire concept went to the drain because of the use of unhygienic and unboiled Cow’s milk for the babies. Unsanitary living conditions and habits like Failure to wash hands properly before feeding the baby, contaminated utensils et cetera lead to severe infections in the digestive system in the infants. This was the leading cause of the high rate of infant mortality due to diarrhea in India. Many would recall the high rate of infant mortality caused by unhygienic use of a branded infant formula across the world a few decades back.
It is important to note that propagation of this concept in the uneducated and poor masses can be dangerous because of inherently unhygienic conditions lack of basic hygiene awareness. That they should feed their babies colostrum from day one. Instead of witching to unhygienic prepared Cow’s milk.
As of now, we have no scientific proof for this concept. The biggest bases for the validity of any concept in Ayurveda is pratyaksha pramana (visible and verifiable proof). Therefore I do not claim that it is true. However, I am in the process of experimentation and hope to discover the truth behind this Ayurvedic concept whatever it may be.