Benefits of Breast Milk
Medicinal benefits of breast milk
“Let food be your medicine,” wrote Hippocrates. These words from the first doctor of medicine were not written about the benefits of breast milk, but they are accurate in their description of it. Besides being the best preventative medicine for just about any disease, breast milk can also help cure an illness once it has started. This is particularly true of diarrheal diseases. The low mineral content of breast milk enables inflamed intestines to absorb the water in breast milk very efficiently. In addition, human milk contains anti-inflammatory substances and immune factors that help heal intestines rather than irritating them further as would happen with formula. This is why it has long been noted that not only do diarrheal illnesses occur less frequently in breastfed infants, but if they do occur, breastfed babies experience less dehydration and recover more quickly than formula-fed babies.
Other benefits of breast milk come from the one million white blood cells contained in each drop of milk, which is why it is appropriately called “white blood.” Breast milk has long been observed to help heal superficial infections, such as conjunctivitis. Try squirting some in the eye of a baby with conjunctivitis. (Express milk into a cup and use an eyedropper if your aim isn’t so good.) It really helps.
Makes a sick baby better
The enteromammary immune system is another of the benefits of breast milk. When an infant is exposed to a germ, mother is often exposed to the same germ. But in the first six to nine months of life, the infant’s ability to make antibodies to fight that germ is limited. So the mother makes these germ fighters for her baby, and these antibodies travel to her milk and are delivered to her baby. This system is especially helpful in fighting intestinal germs. Even when a baby contracts a germ, say at day care, the baby “exposes” mother’s breasts to that germ through sucking, and within eight hours the breasts are able to make antibodies to that germ and offer them to the baby via the milk.
Store and take your breast milk with you so it is there for baby whenever they need it.