There are many benefits to being married to a dairyman. We love getting to live on the land that my husband works on: That our girls and I get to see him during the day. That he can come in for lunch as a family and sometimes a quick game of ping pong. (In fact, I should write a separate blog on the benefits of mental stimulation and hand-eye coordination in the middle of the day.) And even though it means that we live in the middle of nowhere, that we refer to running errands as “going to town”, and that we buy our groceries in bulk so that we don’t have to “go to town” multiple times in a week, we love the luxury of being outside. The stars at night shine brightly without having to compete with city lights. The sounds that we hear are pure nature – cows mooing and coyotes howling join in with our daughters’ sound machines for a pretty sweet melody if you ask me.
A benefit that I didn’t realize my husband would bring is that I would have my very own personal lactation consultant in my household.
I learned this on the day that our first baby was born. Rob (my husband) was far more familiar with everything that happened in the birthward than I was, since he has been involved with countless calf births. Growing up and working on a family farm all his life, he’s had his fair share of being around new mothers – cow mothers, that is. When we had our first daughter, he was talking with the doctor about the oxytocin that my body would naturally release during labor and delivery; then again when my body releases that hormone to “let down” colostrum to feed our newborn daughter. I remember my husband telling me I was doing a good job making sure that she got her liquid gold, and how wonderful to learn that this was building up her immune system.
What is liquid gold anyway?
On the other hand, I basically learned what colostrum was on the day I became a mom.
Colostrum is the first form of breastmilk that is released by the mammary glands after giving birth.
It is nutrient-dense and high in antibodies and antioxidants to build a newborn baby’s immune system. It is often called “liquid gold” because of its rich golden color and valuable benefits. What a beautiful thing that a mother begins to protect her baby from the very beginning of his or her life, starting with this natural protection from infection!
This whole liquid gold thing was all news to me, but it was comforting to me that my husband was already an expert in the importance of colostrum because of his line of work. During a cow’s pregnancy, antibodies do not pass across the mother cow’s placenta to her fetus’ circulatory system, so a baby calf is essentially born without an immune system. Because of this, dairymen ensure that their newborn calves consume colostrum immediately after birth to protect them from diseases, as well as build their immune systems.
What are the nutrients in breastmilk?
The nutrients are highest in colostrum, but regular breastmilk also contains antibodies that continue to fight infection and benefit our baby’s body in different ways. The white blood cells in breastmilk head straight into the stomach and intestine when your baby eats. If they need to, the white blood cells can fight infections in those areas directly, but the different factors are absorbed in order to reach the entire body and set up the stage to build a healthy immune system – so the breastmilk continues to benefit the child for the rest of his or her life even when the mother is no longer breastfeeding. Since becoming a mother, I have learned a few other ways that breastmilk can benefit us in addition to providing our babies with the perfect nutrition that they need.
What are other uses for breastmilk?
Consider it an all-natural healing ointment that you don’t have to run to town to buy🙂
Skin rashes & irritations
Breastmilk contains regenerative cells, growth factors, and antibodies which help our skin heal. This study discusses how it may be even more effective than many over-the-counter treatments. You can pump some extra breastmilk to apply directly to the affected area, or try giving your baby the “breastmilk spa experience.” To do this, fill up your baby’s bath (or sink) with warm water as you usually would, but instead of adding soap, try adding breastmilk. You don’t need much, just 5-12oz should be effective for helping:
- Diaper Rash
- Baby Acne
- Poison Ivy
- Insect bites/stings
Apply a little breastmilk to your baby’s lips if they seem dry… this will work for your other kids and yourself too!
Eye infection & irritation
It can be common for a baby’s eye to get irritated for a variety of reasons like allergies, blocked tear duct, exposure to bacteria, etc. Applying a drop or two of breastmilk directly to the inner corner of the eye may help.
If your baby has a runny nose, allowing breastmilk direct contact in his or her mucous lining allows those white blood cells present in the breastmilk to go right to work. Use a tiny syringe and start with just a couple drops in each nostril.
Because of the regenerative cells in breastmilk, it is a great way to heal cracked or sore nipples – and conveniently located also🙃. After you finish nursing, simply squeeze a few drops out, rub the natural miracle ointment in, then let it air dry. This is also a great way to keep the bacteria content down and decrease your risk of mastitis. Just make sure that you rinse clean in the shower afterward.
Experience the wonder of breastmilk… well, your babies will at least!
All that to say, breastmilk is a naturally amazing phenomenon, and it seems almost comical how many benefits it brings and ailments it can treat… No wonder people reference the magic of breastmilk!
As a dairyman, a large part of my husband’s job is to ensure that the cows are as comfortable as possible. For example, they have soft sand “beds” to rest in, spray misters and fans to keep cool, their own dedicated vet and nutritionist on-hand, and the list goes on. Caring intentionally for the cows’ wellbeing has transferred nicely to my husband as my lactation consultant. When we have a new baby, he encourages me to be comfortable and lower my stress.
A key take-away is that every husband should be aware of a mama needing to relax in order to “let down” milk to feed her baby.
And while some women would take it as an insult to be compared to a cow, I have learned to take it as a compliment – especially if my husband is commending me for being a “high-producing heifer”, thank you very much 🙂
Learn more about colostrum here… the bovine kind that is.