The Healing Power of Breast Milk

We all know how beneficial breastfeeding can be for our babies. Breast milk contains all of the vitamins and minerals babies need to grow and develop. It is high in fat, helping babies to set down fat stores and gain weight. And every woman produces breast milk that is specifically tailored to the needs of her own baby. But can breast milk do more than just provide a nutritional meal for baby? You may have heard that many women use breast milk to treat a variety of illnesses, but does breast milk really have healing powers? This article will give you the lowdown on whether or not breast milk can really help to heal all that ails you.

Is It Safe To Breastfeed When You Are Sick

My Milk Can Do What?
Whether you are surfing the internet or flipping through your favorite parenting magazine, you have probably come across numerous references to breast milk. You may have also discovered that breast milk isn’t only used for breastfeeding your child. In fact, breast milk is often used to help heal minor illnesses and injuries. But what can breast milk supposedly heal? Well, breast milk is purportedly able to heal:

 

  • conjunctivitis or "pink eye"
  • ear infections
  • scrapes, scratches, and cuts
  • sore nipples

 

Breast milk can supposedly also lower the risk of childhood cancers, SIDS, heart disease, and breast cancer.

Does Breast Milk Really Heal?
Many doctors, researchers, and scientist agree that breast milk does appear to have healing properties that can prove beneficial when it comes to treating minor illnesses and injuries. This is because of the antibodies that breast milk contains. Just as breast milk provides your baby with necessary antibodies to fight off infection, it can also work to kill off bacteria and viruses when applied topically to problem areas.

Nevertheless, breast milk is probably not potent enough to completely kill off infections and other illnesses. Most health care providers do recommend that you seek traditional medical care for these problems, in order to ensure that they completely heal. However, two common illnesses that appear to be helped by the use of breast milk include pink eye and sore nipples.

Conjuctivitis
Conjuctivitis, commonly known as pink eye, is a type of eye infection that is highly contagious and very unpleasant to have. It causes the eye to become inflamed, crusted, and sore. Many people treat conjunctivitis by applying a small amount of breast milk to the affected eye. A particular antibody in the breast milk, called immunoglobulin A, prevents the pink eye bacteria from attaching to the mucosal surface of the eye. This limits the growth of the bacteria, helping to end the eye infection.

If you develop pinkeye, simply squirt a little breast milk directly onto the surface of your eye. Lift your eyelid slightly to help the breast milk circulate underneath. Continue this treatment three times a day for a couple of days, or until the eye infection has cleared. If your symptoms persist or worsen, though, seek medical advice.

Sore Nipples
If you are just beginning to breastfeed, than you are probably pretty familiar with the common complication of cracked and sore nipples. Before your nipples begin to toughen up, they can become quite raw as a result of the force of your baby’s mouth during feedings.

Lanolin and other creams can be effective in reducing the pain and in helping to heal any cracked skin. However, because of the antibodies that breast milk contains, breast milk itself can also be effective in reducing pain and healing cracks. Simply apply a thin coating of breast milk to your nipples and allow them to air dry. The antibodies will kill any infection that may be beginning in your nipples and will encourage your body to heal any sore spots.

Breast Milk and Serious Disease
There is also some evidence that breast milk can help lower both you and your baby’s risk of some serious diseases. Babies who are breastfed appear to have lower incidences of childhood cancers, such as leukemia. Studies have also shown that breast fed babies have a lower risk of developing heart disease later in life. A recent study showed that adults who were breastfed as children had lower systolic blood pressure rates. The longer they were breast fed, the lower their risk for heart disease was.

Breastfeeding has also been linked with a decreased risk of breast cancer. Women who breastfeed appear to be less likely to develop breast cancer later in life. However, this is not because of the properties of breast milk but rather, the act of breastfeeding itself. Breastfeeding limits a woman’s exposure to estrogen, a hormone that often feeds breast cancer cells. Breastfeeding may also change the way cancer cells are able to grow in the breast, preventing these mutating cells from multiplying.

Is Breast Milk Safe To Use?
You may be a little put off about using your breast milk to help cure your or your children’s illnesses. Rest assured however, breast milk is extremely clean and sterile for use. Just make sure that you store your breast milk correctly, as you would for feedings.

It is important to keep in mind that breast milk may not be 100% effective in ending infections or illnesses. For this reason, keep a close watch on infections and be sure to seek appropriate medical treatment if the infection does not resolve itself promptly. Never rely on breast milk as a cure for serious illness or disease.

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mama-of-two
And to those mothers who's breast milk suddenly starts decreasing & then dissapears, I once had this natural doctor tell me 3 reasons on WHY women lose their breast milk supply. #1. NOT PUMPING OR NURSING OFTEN ENOUGH (every 2 hours during the day & about every 3 hrs at night). Quick comment about that - once my baby was couple months old & my milk was established well - I went through 9-12 hrs of not pumping so its possible to get your nighttime sleep & continue breastfeeding. However during the day I would go back to pumping every 2-3 hrs. To those mothers who need to go back to work - I was one of those mothers who went back to work when my baby was 1 month old. On my break time - I ate & pumped at the same time. Ask your boss/employer IF instead of 30 min of break time every 6 hrs, you can instead get 15min every 3 hrs. It doesn't have a chance of happening IF you don't try .....#2. NOT DRINKING ENOUGH LIQUIDS. And coffee, tea, colas DON'T count as they dehydrate the body of liquids. Milk & juices are ok occasionally. However daily it should be WATER about 8 cups of 8oz DAILY. #3. STRESS - has big effect on milk supply. With my 1st baby when he was 5 1/2 months old I had big stress (life changing) not going to get into details of it but due to this stress my milk supply started decreasing to where I had pumped only couple of drops. That was additional panic for me! Then I decided, me worrying or stressing about it wont change anything , it will ONLY take a toll on my baby's health. To decrease stress - I started walking (with a baby), doing yoga, meditation, deep breathing, visualizing better future. Coming up with a plan how to make the problem better. And my milk started increasing. So mommies - it is possible for milk to go from drops to increase to many ounces in one feeding! Determination ....!!! My purpose of sharing all this with you all is to help you moms out there find a way for your baby to give the best that you possibly can. It's not going to be easy, but can you put a price on YOUR baby's health ? Many parents out there say: "I love my child so much I've give & do anything for my baby!" Really? Anything? Would that "anything" include: putting effort into making something happen for your baby's health, challenging hard work, ect ? I encourage you all mamas to do research before which decision to settle on. Which one is best for the health? It is possible & there are many options to try. Determination to do what is best for your baby.
3 years ago
kasjade
leah039 ... breast milk is much much better. women were created in order to breast feed their babies. formula was made for women who have trouble feeding regularly. you owe it to your baby to breast feed. and if you dont want to \"have to\" breast feed your baby then you shouldnt have had a child, sorry but you are an idiot. and if you dont want to always have a boob ready then there is such a thing as pumping. God mothers are becoming lazier and lazier.
3 years ago
leah039
i don't know. every keeps talking about how breastmilk is better but grew up on formula and so did everyone else i know and we are all fine. i still haven't decided if i am going to try it or just go straight to formula feeding. maybe i'll do a bit of both. i just don't like the idea of having to be committed to doing the feedings 24/7. what does it mean, i can never be away from my baby for more than 3 hours? not sure that's realistic. which formula is best? does anyone know?
3 years ago