Three Incredible Powers of Breast Milk
Breast milk not only nourishes babies, but can also be used as an effective home remedy for the entire family. Tot Lactation Expert Rebecca Agi discusses how this dynamic substance is so much more than just food for your tot.
We’ve all heard it: breast milk is nature’s ‘liquid gold’. But why is this so? This fascinating fluid is so much more than just a source of nutrition. In addition to nourishing our babies and helping them build strong immune systems, researchers (and moms!) have discovered that it has other magical powers. Here’s an overview.
1 A PERFECT FOOD
Breast milk is a complete and perfect food — the ideal combination of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates to meet a growing baby’s needs. In addition to being the perfect blend of nutrients, it’s packed with antibodies, enzymes and hormones. In fact, the hormones that circulate in a mother’s bloodstream show up in her breast milk, which is just one example of how the composition of breast milk changes in the course of a day. The breast milk produced in the morning is different from the breast milk produced in the evening. In short, morning milk, with low levels of melatonin, is designed to wake a baby up and evening milk, with its higher levels, helps a baby fall asleep. Even more amazing is that when babies breastfeed, their saliva triggers specific antibodies that are released in the breast milk to protect them from pathogens in their environment that might make them sick. Magical, isn’t it?
2 A LIVING SUBSTANCE
Breast milk is a living substance (yes, you read that correctly) that is filled with good bacteria that help keep the baby’s digestive system healthy and functioning properly. Breast milk contains more than 150 kinds of oligosaccharides (sugars found only in breast milk). These sugars do not feed the baby; instead, they feed the microbes that live in the baby’s digestive system. In other words, not only does a mother’s milk contain the bacteria that a baby needs to break down and digest its food, but it also contains nutrients that those bacteria themselves need to thrive.
3 AN EFFECTIVE HOME REMEDY
In addition to nourishing babies, breast milk can be used externally to treat many ailments that you or your baby may have. As always, we recommend consulting with your healthcare provider before trying any of them.
- Blocked tear ducts. If your baby has a blocked tear duct or crusty eye, a few drops of breast milk several times per day can help treat it. The antibacterial properties in the milk can help clear the blockage before it develops into an infection.
- Newborn rash. Almost all newborns experience some breakouts as their bodies process and clear maternal hormones. Although these breakouts are completely normal and expected, it’s hard to resist wanting to get rid of those little pimples. Try gently dabbing some breast milk on the rash and watch the blemishes instantly disappear.
- Sore nipples. If you find yourself with sore or cracked nipples, try expressing some breast milk and rubbing it into your nipples; it can help soothe and heal them. If, however, you’re suffering from thrush, or if the condition worsens, contact your medical care provider for treatment.
- Ear infection. Luckily breastfed babies are at a reduced risk of developing ear infections, but if your baby shows signs of discomfort, contact your pediatrician immediately. In the meantime, breast milk can help. A few drops of milk in the affected ear every few hours have been shown to help reduce symptoms in babies.
- Diaper rash. If your baby’s bottom is red and irritated, applying some breast milk during diaper changes can help soothe it.
- Teething. For most babies, teething means increased fussiness and gum discomfort. Numbing your baby’s gums with a frozen teething ring or breast milk popsicle can help. Not only will freezing your breast milk in a popsicle tray give your baby something to munch on, but it will help soothe teething pain too. A real win-win!
- Sunburn. Breast milk can also be used to relieve sunburn for children and adults. Gently dab expressed breast milk onto the burn to help ease pain and heal the skin quickly.
As you can see, moms, your breast milk is amazing. And so are you!
The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.