I dedicate this post to one of my heroes - Dr. Denise Punger. I have read her book "Permission to Mother" probably about 20 or so times! I highly recommend ALL mothers (with children of all ages) and mothers-to-be to read her book. Her Family Practice focuses on "Breastfeeding Medicine" and our family has benefited from her knowledge. Nolan latched on minutes after he was born and we were fortunate not to have any breastfeeding problems. He is almost a year now and is still attached! Not only is it the perfect food for babies, but it can help with a variety of aliments. Many breastfeeding mothers are told to leave some expressed milk on their nipples to help with cracking. Why? Because there are healing properties in breast milk and you can use it the same way for almost any "boo-boo" on you or baby. Here are a few examples of how we have used breastfeeding as medicine:
1. Whenever Nolan has a runny nose, or the pollen is really bad, I will wipe a Q-Tip soaked with breast milk inside his nose to keep allergies at bay.
2. I have used breast milk on a diaper rash.
3. Nolan was born with a skin tag on his chest that we had removed when he was around 3 months old. He drank breast milk during the procedure to keep him calm and comfortable - and distracted! Later that day, we applied expressed milk to the area to help it heal faster.
4. When Nolan was about 8 months old, he surpassed our expectations one night by climbing up on the bottom ledge of an end table, grabbed a cup of hot tea and spilled it all over himself. I quickly scooped him up and jumped in the bathtub with him, clothes and all. I immediately lifted my shirt and tried to breastfeed him while running cool - not cold - water over his body. Although he was screaming at first, he started to suckle between screams and eventually calmed down a bit. I was then able to remove his clothes. Fortunately, I remembered that I had a bottle of expressed breast milk in the refrigerator. Avery got it and I gently poured the milk over the burned areas. At this point he had stopped crying and was just red, no blistering or peeling skin. We called the pediatrician, and he suggested we go the hospital just in case. By the time the ER doctor saw us, Nolan's skin was not even red anymore. I had continued to breastfeed him throughout the ER visit to keep him calm and comfortable.
5. Our most recent ER visit was due to a "croupy" cough that came on suddenly after a few days away from home. Nolan was in good spirits when he went to bed, but about one hour later woke up with a bad cough that sounded as if he could not catch his breath. I breastfed him and he fell asleep. But about an hour later he woke up again, crying and coughing. We decided not to take any chances and headed over to the ER. They x-rayed his chest and determined that his trachea was narrowed due to inflammation and that was why he had a hard time breathing. They gave him some medicine to reduce the inflammation and open up the airway. In the meantime, Avery gave him a gentle chiropractic adjustment and I continued to breastfeed him. In less then an hour, Nolan was back to his happy, normal self. The doctors said that this was probably brought on by a virus, which he could have picked up anywhere. They were actually surprised that he did not have any other symptoms or fever. Avery and I were not surprised - Nolan is rarely sick, and when he does not feel good, it is short-lived. The cough scared both of us enough to go to the ER, but other than that, he was perfectly fine. I feel that his good health is due to being exclusively breastfed and now on a very healthy diet, and getting regular chiropractic adjustments to keep his nervous system in check.
Mothers, be aware of "authority figures" that might prevent you from breastfeeding your child. In the ER, the nurses - of all people! - did not want me to breastfeed him in front of them. I tried explaining to them that it is the only way to calm him down; he does not have a pacifier or bottle. Good luck trying to listen to a screaming baby's lungs! And, our pediatrician is not against breastfeeding - but he sure doesn't encourage it either! Just remember, mother knows best for her baby. And breastfeeding your child IS medicine!