In my house, we’ve tasked breast milk with many projects. Yes, it has nourished both of our daughters, but we’ve also used it to unplug clogged tear ducts, loosen up stuffy noses and stealthily healthify smoothies and ice blocks for our toddler. I even once attempted an at-home breast milk facial when I read that a salon was offering them to customers. (Results: After rinsing, my skin felt silky and a bit slippery. Also, my friend’s baby wanted to nurse on my forehead when she caught a whiff.)
Yes, much like the father in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” who uses Windex to cure all of his family’s ills—”from psoriasis to poison ivy” – boob juice has found its way into many nooks and crannies in our home.
As a women's health writer and accidental extended breastfeeder, I thought I knew all there was to know about the benefits of breast milk. Then I read this article making the rounds on Facebook, titled "The More I Learn About Breast Milk, the More Amazed I Am," and learned something totally new.
And it's batshit-crazy cool.
According to Katie Hinde, PhD, a biologist and associate professor at the Center for Evolution and Medicine at the School of Human Evolution & Social Change at Arizona State University (who also runs a blog called Mammals Suck ... Milk!); when a baby nurses, it creates a vacuum in which the infant's saliva sneaks into the mother's nipple. There, it is believed that mammary gland receptors interpret the "baby spit backwash" for bacteria and viruses and, if they detect something amiss (i.e. the baby is sick or fighting off an infection), her body will actually change the milk's immunological composition, tailoring it to the baby's particular pathogens by producing customised antibodies.