Infants are among the most vulnerable when it comes to illnesses like the flu. So Paige Peterson was worried about her daughter’s recent diagnosis.
As the mom wrote on Facebook, baby Raina hadn’t shown any symptoms of the flu, but a test confirmed her daughter’s diagnosis. But while Paige might not have known her daughter was sick, she was unconsciously already helping Raina fight off the infection.
When Paige compared a container of breast milk she’d pumped after Raina came down with the flu with a frozen sample, there was a clear difference in color. As Paige wrote, it was visual proof that her breast milk changed to help her daughter get better:
The frozen milk on the left is from 2 weeks ago. The frozen milk on the right is from this past weekend when her swab came back positive. Notice the change in color?
My breast milk created antibodies to fight off any infections that Raina may have had. I never gave her Tamiflu.
And the science backs up Paige’s claim. According to Science Daily, researchers were already aware that mothers pass antibodies to infants through breast milk, but they have also discovered immune cells from the mother can help “educate” the baby’s immune system in ways that mimic vaccination.
But how does the mother’s body know about the baby’s needs? Rachel Miller, a certified lactation specialist, says that the information is transmitted via the baby’s mouth and saliva during nursing. Miller told WMAZ News this also explains why Paige’s post-flu milk is darker in color:
“Sometimes when we are sick our body is burning extra calories as we’re fighting off that illness, so it could very well increase the calories of mom’s milk to make sure the baby has the energy to be doing the work of fighting off the virus. That definitely would change the appearance of the milk in a way where it would look more yellow.”
Paige told WMAZ that she doesn’t want to tell other moms how to feed their children, but is glad to spread the word about the benefits of breastfeeding. As she wrote on Facebook, “This is why I breastfeed.”