Like all mammals, humans produce breast milk. Until you've actually done it—that is, feed someone from your own breast—it's pretty hard to understand just how natural and beautiful the whole process is.
I've only been at this breast milk thing for ten weeks, two days and… about thirteen hours now, but I can tell you that it's not gross, not barbaric, and certainly not anything to be publicly shamed for. That our country still has an aversion to seeing a woman use her breasts for that which they are most definitely intended is, like Elaine Benes once said, a big giant nipple on our soul.
But we do it anyway, regardless of what people may think. Formula is an incredible creation that has helped to save countless lives. But breast milk is quite literally, the fluid of life. Watching a baby grow bigger and stronger in a few weeks just through the milk a mother provides is all part of the miracle we call life. And the miracle doesn't end there. Think breast milk is only for eating? Check out these other uses:
- Sleep inducer: Any mom knows this already. Want your little one to fall asleep? Put her on the boob. The chemicals in breast milk induce sleepiness.
- Skin fixer: Whether it's diaper rash, baby (or adult) acne, eczema, a cut or a scrape or a burn, breast milk can do wonders to heal the skin.
- Pain relief: Chemicals in breast milk are mildly anesthetic, so keep that in mind the next time your toddler bonks his head on the coffee table.
- Sore nipple relief: Breastfeeding is not always easy. Nipples can get quite sore from time to time and you don't need a super expensive salve or cream to heal them (you certainly don't need the oil from sheep's wool—a common recommendation). Rub your breast milk onto your nipples and let them air dry to help heal cracks and soreness.
- Ear infection treatment: Maybe don't do this one in public, but squirting some milk into your baby's ears can ease the pain and speed up the healing of an ear infection.
- Eye infection: Same as above. This also works for plugged tear ducts.
- Stuffy nose: Irrigating the nasal passage (for babies and adults) with breast milk can help reduce congestion and speed healing.
- Prevent cancer (in moms): Research has shown that women who breast feed reduce their risks of developing breast or ovarian cancer.
- Birth control: While you should always take precautions above and beyond breastfeeding, it can prevent your period from returning. For some women it's as long as they breast feed. For others, it's just a few months.
- Sexual lubricant: Since you're most likely not very fertile per above, hopefully you and your partner have resumed post-baby sex. Breastfeeding hormones can dry a woman out down there, but all she needs to do is use some of the milk as a natural lubricant.
- Remove makeup: All out of Oil of Olay? Let your breast milk help remove your makeup.
- Heal chapped lips: It works on sore, cracked nipples, so why not on sore, cracked lips?
- Food: Transitioning your baby to solid foods can be a bit of a task. So why not use your breast milk in the process? You can make your own cheese or yogurt, add breast milk to recipes and even make ice cream!
Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger
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