In the post, Ashlee Chase shared a picture of two bags of breast milk. The bag at the top of the photo is white; the other below it has a yellow tinge. In the caption, she made a serious case for breastfeeding, while addressing critics. “‘Why do you still let your 7-month-old nurse,’ “she’s too old,’ ‘she’s just using you as a pacifier,’ ‘you need to put her in her own bed,'” Chase wrote, echoing the comments she’s gotten about her breastfeeding. “100% why. Top milk is from 3 days ago when a healthy Elliot was nursing. Bottom is from today, after sick Elliot with a fever comfort-nursed all night. This.”
Chase’s post has been shared more than 7,000 times.
“I read before that your milk could change for different reasons, but I was so sleep-deprived that morning, I just thought there was something wrong with it,” Chase tells Yahoo Lifestyle. Since her 7-year-old daughter Peyton had been home sick with a high fever and strep throat, Chase says she originally thought that she was sick, too. But once she called her daughter’s pediatrician, she was told that the breast milk’s yellowish color meant there was more fat and antibodies in the milk to help her infant Elliot fight the infection.
And, it seems, it worked. “The illness knocked my 7-year-old out for a week, but the baby only got a runny nose and a slight fever the night before I noticed the yellow,” Chase says.
Chase’s doctor was right: A mother’s body responds when her baby is fighting off an infection, women’s health expert Jennifer Wider, M.D., tells Yahoo Lifestyle. Leukocytes, white blood cells of the immune system that protect the body against infection and foreign invaders, increase dramatically in a woman’s milk supply when her baby is sick, Wider explains.
“The baby’s saliva goes back into the breast and then the breast manufactures special milk to protect the baby,” Leigh Anne O’Connor, a board-certified lactation consultant and La Leche League leader, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. This can happen when other members of the baby’s family are sick and can also happen if the breastfeeding mom is sick, she says, adding, “This is one of nature’s beautiful tricks to protect the offspring and to keep the population healthy and growing.”
While the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that moms exclusively nurse their babies for six months, and continue to breastfeed up until their baby is at least 12 months old, if possible, Chase says she’s frequently gotten questions from people about how long she plans to continue to nurse Elliot. Chase says she wrote her Facebook post “as like an ‘OK guys, this is why — leave me alone,’” she shares.
Chase says she had no idea that her post would go viral and didn’t realize that her page was public until thousands of people started sharing it. But, even though some comments were “rude,” she says plenty of others said her post made them decide to try breastfeeding or to stick with it — and that made her decide to leave it up.
According to O’Connor, every nursing mom’s milk does this — they just might not realize it. “We are only beginning to understand the complex elements of human milk,” O’Connor says. “It is medicine at its finest.”
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