No one reveals a particular benefit of nursing, so I will. Articles often mention the benefits of antibodies that the mother transfers to the child in the first six months of nursing. These antibodies are a special collection that the mother’s body learned to make from illnesses she had throughout her life. It is useful because a newborn’s body has no experience or memory to know what to do or how to build specific antibodies. The supply from the mother helps the newborn. After six months of nursing, the articles say that the mother no longer transfers these antibodies. But no one ever mentions the antibodies that the mother can transfer to the baby after those first 6 months, for as long as she nurses, each time both have a cold.
When a vulnerable infant is sick, a mother would do anything to ease its suffering and her worries. If a mother knew that simply nursing the child would be helpful, she would do it. This is the single most wonderful, critical piece of advice. And yet articles always leave it out.
I have nursed all three of my children. I nursed the first two for two years each. The third one has been nursing for three years. Each time everyone has a cold in the house except the one who nurses. It’s not because of her immune system. It’s mine. I catch every cold my kids bring home. But my body produces cold fighting soldiers that transfer to my nursing toddler. So the worst symptom the nursing toddler ever had was barely a runny nose for a half hour. No fever, knock on wood. Not even when I had fevers. This has been true for all three children—for as long as they nursed.
When pressed, doctors admit that the woman does pass many good things to the baby. This even includes medication. In the first year, there are very few healthy options to ease symptoms. No one wants to give medication. Most of it can harm the undeveloped sensitive organs like the liver. Few people know about wonderful homeopathic medicines that can help and other safe therapies. In addition to passing antibodies to fight the cold, a nursing mother can also pass some medications in a safer format to her child. Of course, a doctor should be consulted first. It’s just another level of protection.
Even when the mother does not take any medicines, her own breast milk can have 5o milligrams of vitamin C, for example. Another benefit during a cold, is that no matter how little the child wants to take in food or liquid, they will never say no to nursing. This way, even if nothing else goes down, the mother knows the child is staying hydrated.
Nursing is also an excellent way to hear how much the nose is plugged. This can help the mother decide if to give the child some homeopathic boosts, vitamin C, or some steam therapy.
When my daughter had a stomach virus at 13months, she was puking incessantly. I had just weaned her days before. But when I became worried that she was not keeping liquids down, I restarted my milk supply by telling her to nurse again. I loved having peace of mind just knowing that she was getting liquids. And I know that my milk was the best “medicine” for her during an upset stomach.
Clearly, nursing is incredibly positive for mother and child in many ways. I could write so much about how much I learned about my children by this bond. I loved being perfectly synchronized even while out of the house, to know exactly when they are hungry. It helped keep me close to them. Mostly, I loved being forced sometimes to stop what I think I should be doing, and do a time out to nurse and reflect. If only we could continue to have this “time out” to just sit and think or talk to each other every few hours, years passed this nursing stage.
But this blog is here to be the first article that tells people to listen to themselves and their baby. Mothers have been listening to bad advice for too long. It is time to make a big HeartMark, take a great big breath in, let it out, and focus on what’s best for the mother and child, regardless of the advice that may be all around.