The NCBI (just think government research), "In humans, milk excreted antibodies play a major role in protecting infants from infection by pathogens having a mucosal portal of entry." Another study says, "the most abundant type is IgA, specifically the form known as secretory IgA, which is found in great amounts throughout the gut and respiratory system of adults. These antibodies consist of two joined IgA molecules and a so-called secretory component that seems to shield the antibody molecules from being degraded by the gastric acid and digestive enzymes in the stomach and intestines. Infants who are bottle-fed have few means for battling ingested pathogens until they begin making secretory IgA on their own, often several weeks or even months after birth."
I know, I know, that's a bunch of science speak. It's science speak for Mother's Milk ROCKS.
This awesome liquid keeps that baby's gut healthy and fights off any intruders that may come to play. Not only that, but it lines the mucus passage ways, making it much more difficult for something like PC or HIB to get through to the lungs. It doesn't mean a baby can't get sick, but it does mean that a baby's symptoms may be much, much less severe.
Here's an example. The first year of Ethan's life, he was running a low-grade fever and had a few bouts of diarrhea. He was in good spirits and flew right through it without skipping a beat. That very night, I began puking my guts up for hours. It was TERRIBLE. And Clint followed. So why did Ethan do so well and not even cast up the contents of his belly, which was on solids by that point? I think it's because I was breastfeeding. As soon as he started feeling ill, I had already been exposed and I was already passing on very useful antibodies into his system. Too bad I had no antibodies to consume!
So moving on....
As we move into the winter months, I begin to worry about germs and illness, especially since the both go to two different places and I'm in a classroom (aka petri dish).
I know that Dylan will continue to receive useful antibodies that will keep him as healthy as possible. But what about Ethan? A recent talk with a lactation consultant gave me the answer.....
I should warn you that you may or may not have very strong feelings about what I'm about to admit. I make no apologies.
I'm sure that someday when Ethan reads this, he may very well throw up on the spot. However, I think it's rather ingenious and I certainly hope it works.
I'm going to sneak a few ounces of breast milk to my oldest throughout winter. Yep. Put a few ounces in his cereal or mix it with a glass of milk. He won't know the difference. I know it sounds strange and gross and weird, but if it works, who cares? As others have said, why is it okay to feed our children milk meant for another animal but not our own? Does that make sense? No. It doesn't.
No, I'm not going to breast feed my four year old. For one, I couldn't do it. For two, he wouldn't do it. But sneaking him a shot or two of antibodies a day certainly can't hurt in the health department.