Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Top Ten Cool things about Breastmilk

Here are my "Top 10 coolest things about breastmilk." This stuff is crazy cool.

10. Your breasts don't factor in the "3 ounces of liquid" rule when flying
Last Christmas, while walking through security with Margaret in the Mei Tai one of the TSA agents asked if we had cups or bottles of water for our baby. Nope! She was just waking up from having her boots taken off to go through security, so I was actually getting ready to nurse her some more. Unlimited drinks for my toddler. That's better than what you get from the in-flight drink service!

9. It's Good for the Economy
From the 2001 USDA report, The Economic Benefits of Breastfeeding: A Review and Analysis. The 2001 abstract starts with, "A minimum of $3.6 billion would be saved if breastfeeding were increased from current levels (64 percent in-hospital, 29 percent at 6 months) to those recommended by the U.S. Surgeon General (75 and 50 percent). This figure is likely an underestimation of the total savings..." The whole report is found here in PDF form.

8. Environmental Impact: 0
It's renewable and reaches the consumer leaving behind no carbon footprint.

7.Water-soluble poo

As someone who has used cloth diapers, this rocks. You don't have to rinse the diapers off before tossing them in the wash as long as your child is only getting breastmilk! Less work for you!

6. Content changes depending on time of day

"You wouldn't give anyone a coffee at night, and the same is true of milk – it has day-specific ingredients that stimulate activity in the infant, and other night-time components that help the baby to rest," explains S├ínchez.

5. Reduces SIDS

Why? Dr. Sears speculates 8 reasons. Including ideas like Breastfeeding leads to less respiratory infections which leads to your baby having one less thing to struggle with while sleeping.

Anti-bacterial and antiviral and antifungal.
It is so awesome that there are patents out there that describe how to extract things like lactoferrin from human breastmilk for various uses. Don't want E. Coli in your ground beef production? Breastmilk. See Journal of Food Protection, 1999, Volume 62:747-750.
This also means breastmilk is good for cuts and scrapes and goopy eyes and dripping noses. I've even put it on second-degree burns.

3. Custom-made antibodies
From this site: "First, the collection of antibodies transmitted to an infant is highly targeted against pathogens in that child's immediate surroundings. The mother synthesizes antibodies when she ingests, inhales or otherwise comes in contact with a disease-causing agent. Each antibody she makes is specific to that agent; that is, it binds to a single protein, or antigen, on the agent and will not waste time attacking irrelevant substances. Because the mother makes antibodies only to pathogens in her environment, the baby receives the protection it most needs-against the infectious agents it is most likely to encounter in the first weeks of life."
So your body makes antibodies for your baby specifically related to what you have come in contact with!

2. Alpha-lactalbumin
Alpha-lac causes unstable fast-growing cells (such as cancer cells) to self-destruct. That's in your milk! This may be why childhood cancers and leukemia are less common in breastfed children. I would speculate that the presence of it in your milk- and therefore your breast- also contributes to the lower instances of breast cancer in women who breastfeed. But the fact that your breastmilk causes cancer cells to commit suicide? Way cool.

1. Stem Cells
And if that's not cool enough, in November, it was announced that there are 3 different kinds of stem cells in breastmilk. Coolest part, "Dr Cregan said the discovery of immune stem cells was the "most exciting development", adding, "It's quite possible that immune cells in breast milk can survive digestion and end up in the infant's circulation. This has been shown to be occurring in animals, and so it would be unsurprising if this was also occurring in human infants." Extra immune stem cells in your child's body to be used for whatever purpose your child's body needs? That is freakin' cool. And impossible to imitate.


  1. Awesome post! I love all these things, too! (Especially the anti-bac/viral/fungal thing. Whenever I suspect Bug may be getting an ear infection, I put breast milk in both ears. He has yet to get an infection!)

  2. I'm working on a couple of top ten posts of my own--one about things I love about cloth diapering, one about BF...I'll have to link you from the latter, since my reasons are not all the same. :)
    I DO love BF for flying with an infant because if they are nursing during takeoff/landing, then the constant swallowing helps their ears pop and adjust. Older people often chew gum to serve the same purpose, but an infant can't do that of course, nor can they yawn 'on command'...so yay for breastfeeding and not-sore ears!!

  3. Heather, this is an AWESOME post! Can I re-post it on my blog? Email me and let me know.

  4. WOW! So cool! Can I repost this on my blog too? :) Thanks for doing all this amazing research!

  5. For those who want to post it, just make sure you link back to me. :) I'm glad you all liked it. I realized later I should have put "Extra oxytocin for babe and mom" in there, but I forgot.

  6. I didn't even know about the last two reasons on your list! Wow! Talk about disease prevention.

  7. So well written! I'm definitely posting to let folks know about your post.

    I wish this was something our young women were taught. So many still think formula is a quality food and that breastmilk is just food.

  8. Awesome and amazing. Thanks for all the little reminders. I especially loved the 10th reason.

  9. Thanks, Heather! I'll link back to you!

  10. take that "formula is just as ok" pushers!

    every time i read such nifty stuff about breastmilk, it makes me a little sad my breastfeeding journey is over.

  11. Awesome! Also, the milk changes as the baby ages. SO cool. Baby doesn't need MORE, it's just different. Our bodies rock!

  12. I absolutely loved this post and I included it in our Week In Review today: http://blog.upspringbaby.com/2010/01/29/week-in-review-january-29-2010/

  13. Anonymous6:32 PM

    I'm just curious what your dental hygiene routine is with your toddler? The American Academy of Pediatric Dentists states that...The potential for early childhood caries exists for the breast-fed child and is related to the extended and repetitive feeding times with prolonged exposure of teeth to fermentable carbohydrate without appropriate oral hygiene measures.

    I want to make it clear that I am not accusing you of not insuring proper oral hygiene measures with your baby. I'm just concerned that she is susceptible to decay because A- she is a toddler and so therefore I assume she has teeth present in her oral cavity. B- extended and repetitive feeding times (like nursing continually through the night, or on a long flight) C-Once children introduce solids into their diets there bacterial oral flora is dramatically altered. Introducing fermentable carbohydrates that break down and contribute to tooth decay. The AAPD continue to state that, "Ad libitum nocturnal breast-feeding should be avoided after the first primary tooth begins to erupt. If the infant falls asleep while feeding, the teeth should be cleaned before placing the child in bed."

    In no way am I anti-breast feeding. In fact, I'm currently BF'ing my 5 month old baby. In addition to being a mommy I am a RDH and my main goal is to educate the importance of oral hygiene. Just curious what precautions you are taking to avoid baby tooth decay in your little one since she is having lengthy feeding sessions. Is she using a fluoride toothpaste? Taking fluoride supplements? Is she having regular dental exams and prophylaxis cleanings?

    I've seen the effects of rampant tooth decay in children. It's crippling and dangerous to their health and nutritional needs. Just like in most situations...prevention is the best medicine.

    Best of luck in all your endeavors. And I do wish your toddler the best of luck in all of her tooth endeavors as well.

    KT RDH

  14. I did not know that Breastmilk was Anti-bacterial and antiviral and antifungal!! After reading this post I took some breasmilk and dabbed in on a cut I had on my thumb that was quite painful and getting infected. The next day; AMAZING! No pain, no infection, almost gone! Wow! Breasmilk is amazing!! It also got me thinking;

    Tea Tree oil is also Anti-bacterial and antifungal. You've mentioned you use it in your laundry. I make my own laundry soap but can't use Tea tree oil because it is deadly to cats, and I have a cat. Have you ever considered using breastmilk instead? Would that even work? Am I crazy?

  15. Great post! Thanks for the links and information.


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