We all know how amazing breastmilk is and that it has great benefits for mum and bub when breastfeeding, but did you also know that breastmilk can be used for other reasons?
Colostrum and breastmilk can be used to treat blocked tear ducts, cracked nipples, rashes and is pain relief for your baby.
Breastmilk is called liquid gold for a reason. If you have spare breastmilk in your fridge or freezer, don’t throw it away (unless it’s off) - here are some of the many ways you can use your breastmilk! Often our Franjos mamas have excess breastmilk from all of their delicious lactation cookies!
Eczema and baby acne
Eczema can be common amongst newborns, as babies have sensitive skin that can dry easily, which can cause eczema to develop.
Baby acne or little white pustules on bubs face or body can be normal in the early stages of life due to their body still containing some of your hormones.
- Breastmilk can help ease eczema and acne without using any creams. The easiest way is to soak a cotton ball with breastmilk and apply it to the affected area or pour some breastmilk into bubs bath to help relieve the redness.
It is sometimes common for bubs skin to get red and irritated on their bottom due to wearing a nappy. There are lots of different barrier creams that you can put on bubs bottom as prevention for nappy rash, but some babies still get a red bottom. There have been some studies that suggest breastmilk can be more effective than prescription creams for nappy rash.
- As we know, breastmilk contains antibodies from you, which can fight off the bacteria that cause nappy rash. It is recommended to pat it onto the red area and let it dry before putting bubs nappy back on. Fresh air is also great for nappy rash, so tummy time with bubs nappy off and breastmilk applied to the rash can work really well.
Sore or cracked nipples
Breastmilk can also benefit you, Mama! It can be very common for breastfeeding to leave you with sore, cracked and even bleeding nipples, especially if it is your first time breastfeeding. If you think there is an infection on your nipples causing the pain and soreness then please consult your health care professional before rubbing breastmilk onto them.
- Simply hand express some colostrum or breastmilk onto your nipples after every feed and let it dry. This can help heal those damaged nipples, as well as some fresh air.
Clogged tear duct
It can be common for bub to have crusty, teary eyes in the first few months of life. This is typically caused by blocked tear ducts. Symptoms include excessive tearing, crusting, blurred vision, and pus discharge from the eyes. If the discharge is yellow/green in colour, consult a health care professional. It is recommended to regularly clean the eye using a cloth or cotton pad (a separate one for each eye), with warm water. Some doctors will recommend gently massaging the tear ducts to help open the nasal passages that are clogged, but breastmilk can work just as well. Always check in with your healthcare provider if you have concerns.
- After cleaning the eye with water, drop some breastmilk into the irritateded part of the eye a couple of times a day. You can squirt the breastmilk in or use an eyedropper. This will help the tear duct clear in 1-2 days. If it still does not clear up, consult a doctor.
Cuts, insect bites & sunburn
Thanks to breastmilk’s soothing and antibacterial properties it can help treat many cuts, scratches or insect bites that your baby may get. Breastmilk also contains anti-inflammatory chemicals that help regulate the body’s immune response.
- Defrost some breastmilk and add it to some water or use fresh breastmilk. Apply onto the insect bite and allow it to dry to bring quick relief from the itching. For sunburn, you can also use a breastmilk ice cube on the affected area for some cool relief.
Normally when babies have a stuffy or congested nose parents drop some saline solution into their nose to loosen up the congestion. Although Mama, your breastmilk is high in anti-inflammatory properties, so it is the perfect liquid to substitute saline for. Unlike salty saline, bub will recognise the taste of breastmilk, so they won’t be as shocked when they swallow some of it in the process.
- Simply express some breastmilk into a cup, or defrost frozen breastmilk. Use a syringe to drop it up into, lay your baby back in your arms, your partner’s arms or on the change mat, and drop some breastmilk into each nostril. Bub may not like this sensation or may sneeze, give bub a cuddle and let your breastmilk do all the work.
You are your baby’s comfort, calm and home. When they are tired, upset or have hurt themselves, they are going to want you, their Mama. Cuddles and breastfeeding is going to be your number one way to help relieve your baby’s pain.
- If bub has a cold or a sore throat, don’t stop breastfeeding! Breastmilk may help soothe throat pain, breastmilk antibodies can shorten the span of the illness and can help bub build resistance and beat the cold.
- Another idea for a pain-relieving treatment is if your baby is teething, or they have red sore gums. You can freeze your breastmilk into popsicles or ice cubes, then simply get them out of freezer and give them to bub to suck on to soothe their sore gums.
Donate your breastmilk
We all know that breastmilk has so many benefits for bub, such as powerful components for immunity, protection from respiratory diseases, ear infections and gastrointestinal diseases. The other amazing way to use breastmilk, if you are lucky enough have bags of it in your freezer, is donating it.
Some Mama’s may choose to use donated breastmilk for their baby for two main reasons; bub is premature or unwell in neonatal nursery and their milk isn’t in yet, or they can’t meet the demands of their baby and really want to feed their baby breastmilk instead of formula. For preterm babies, breastmilk is easier to digest than formula, and it also protects their gut and improves feed tolerance (reducing the chance they will vomit it back up).
- Australian Red Cross also accept breastmilk donation if you meet the eligibility criteria, see www.milkbank.com.au for more information. Most states in Australia also have breastmilk donation centres that you can contact for more information.
- To make it convenient, freeze some breastmilk in an ice tray and then you can pop out a cube to defrost whenever you need some.
- After bub is 6 months old and you are introducing solids, you can use breastmilk in purees or cereal. By adding some breastmilk instead of water, it will be a familiar taste for bub and still have all the amazing benefits.
- Leftover breastmilk can always be used for a beautiful ‘milk bath’ for you or your baby. Simply pour in some breastmilk (fresh or frozen) to a warm bath, relax and enjoy delicious soft skin which can be amazing for eczema or rashes.
Always check in with your healthcare provider before attempting any of the above tips.