For generations, breast milk has been considered to be “natures perfect food”. So much so, its now being revered as the gold standard in baby building. Recent statistics are showing the breast feeding culture has increased every year and is now considered to be a long term health investment. Woman are self educating and choosing to breast feed even though hospitals and doctors are advising them to go straight to a “healthier and easier” formula option. Growing up, breast feeding was considered sacred and necessary. The women often worked together to help each other create breast feeding communities. If there was a mother who was unable to feed her child, another woman in the family or community would breast feed on her behalf. If a woman had built immunity from disease, she was encouraged to breast feed other children in the community to help build immunity. Many of the kids in the community were considered “breast friends” because of the nature of this practice. And many woman are now networking to create breast milk banks, freezing their over production and providing mothers who are unable to nurse with the same options.
Lets talk about some of the important benefits of breast milk:
Antibodies are immunoglobulins that work closely with the immune system to neutralize and destroy pathogens. These cells help protect the baby in advance of birth as mom synthesizes immunity from environmental toxins and microbes during every season of her pregnancy. This also includes the DNA transferred antibodies mom has absorbed from every generation that came before her. During pregnancy, antibodies are passed from mother to fetus through the placenta and continue to circulate baby’s blood for months after birth. These pre-antibodies then patiently wait for new antibodies through breast milk to come in as they work together to protect the baby in all developmental stages. Antibodies are abundant in “IgA” which help seal baby’s intestinal, respiratory, and urinary tracts. It also prevents pathogens from entering babies blood stream and damaging their delicate tissue.
Breast milk contains intelligent stem cells derived of both blood and breast milk cells that cross through baby’s gut and blood brain barrier where they are then turned into functioning cells for organ development. Newly discovered breast milk stem cells called hMSC’s are now being studied for their multi-lineage properties connected to immunity, ancient gut microbiome and cancer prevention. These stem cells communicate with the baby’s saliva through the mammary glands and adjust breast milks healing components as needed or if particular pathogens have been detected. This is why breast milk changes volume, color and viscosity when the baby is sick and in need of extra nourishment. Mothers who are feeding multiple children display this by producing a different breast milk for each child. How brilliant is that?
Breast milk contains 1 to 5 million white blood cells, 10 times a humans normal concentration. These white blood cells are delivered through the probiotic bacteria found in breast milk. These cells pass through babies digestive tract and then trans locate to the liver, spleen and lymph nodes, where they circulate in deep tissue to assist in all components of organ and immune development. These white blood cells also help protect the womans breast from infection the first six weeks after birth.
Colostrum is a the thick concentrated yellow breast milk which is highest first few days of postnatal nursing. It helps build all ear, nose, throat and gut functions. Colostrum contains ten times more beta carotene, vitamin E and zinc than normal breast milk to assist with eye and skin development. It also creates a tough coating in the baby’s stomach and intestines to keep microbes from causing illness. This assists colostrum in acting like a laxative to help the baby pass muconium, the first well rounded gut function after birth. Pre-colostrum is also available at 36 weeks of pregnancy and can be self harvested from the breast and frozen in syringes. This pre-colostrum can then be used as an immunity booster, not only for the baby, but for the entire family as well.
During pregnancy, a mother’s hormones cross the placenta and shape the child’s psychological responses and growth. After birth, the mother continues this through the hormones in her milk such as melatonin to help baby fall asleep, endorphins that work with the central nervous system to keep the baby calm, leptin for a healthy gut flora and epidermal growth factors to help with all of the baby’s milestones.
Breast milk also contains multiple enzymes that provide energy, fight off microbes and help build baby’s digestion. These enzymes create an entire eco system of good bacterias that will be in constant communication for the rest of the child’s life. These enzymes also help protect the baby from future tooth decay caused by dysbiosis. Breast milk is so intelligent that the entire chemical and enzymatic composition changes daily based on what the baby needs at the moment. For instance, if the baby is thirsty, breast milk production will be more watery in the beginning to quench their thirst and then adjusts fat content to meet their energy needs for the rest of the feeding. This allows the baby to be in constant control of producing exactly what it needs to aid in digestion and development.
Not only is breast milk nourishing to the baby, but it is also healing to the mother in many ways. According to the American Association of Pediatrics, breastfeeding can lead to a decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancer, as well as reduce the risk of postpartum depression. This is primarily because the two hormones that are needed to produce breast milk are prolactin, which is responsible for the nurturing sensation and oxytocin, which promotes a strong sense of love. These hormones also help the the uterus go back to normal size and reduce postpartum bleeding while helping mom burn an extra 500 calories a day. Multiple studies have found breastfeeding may reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and cardiovascular disease.
With all of that said, there aren’t enough words to explain how nurturing breast milk can really be to both mother and child. Just like the story Jena shared about how her brother was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma, one of the most dangerous infant cancer diagnosis. Breast milk was the only other form of treatment he received outside of getting the tumor removed. Doctors called him a miracle baby for such a beautiful recovery with no chemo or radiation administered and believed that breast milk played a large role in his healing journey. Can you imagine how groundbreaking medicine would be if it focused on this type of immune building? I often refer to breast milk as “liquid love” because breasts are located in the heart chakra which is governed by LOVE energy. In the face of our current epidemic of childhood disease, this may very well be the reason why breast feeding information and energy continue to thrive.
By Natasha M