You found the hidden text! Did you know... One single drop of a mother's colostrum has nearly 1 million white blood cells in it! True amazing power we hold as human mothers to heal. "Every Drop Counts!" - Summer

Have you ever had someone tell you that at “this age” {insert any age that you notice people start inappropriately discussing a woman’s nursing relationship}, breastmilk is no more than water and has no nutrient benefits? Did that make you question yourself? Did you wonder, maybe they are right, but a tiny voice inside you doubted their comment and trusted that breastmilk must be loaded up with nutrients? Or maybe you have just always known that and ignored all the ridiculously and unwelcome suggestions people will say to anyone that is a parent. Well breastmilk is full of great stuff at every age! Take a look at what 15 ounces of breastmilk provides to a nursling that is between 1 and 2 years of age.

“In the second year (12-23 months), 448 mL/15 ounces of breastmilk provides:
29% of energy requirements
43% of protein requirements
36% of calcium requirements
75% of vitamin A requirements
76% of folate requirements
94% of vitamin B12 requirements
60% of vitamin C requirements
— Dewey 2001 ”

This above doesn’t even go into the detail of all that breastmilk continues to offer in immunity. During this time, and actually beginning as early as 6 months postpartum, breastmilk returns to a more ‘colostral’ state. Many of you know that colostrum is the beginning milk a woman has in the early postpartum period, and is rich in immunities for the baby, and packed into a small volume. In other words, super concentrated! Then colostrum transitions to mature milk, or what mothers call, ‘milk coming in’, and its volume quickly increases and its components change as well.

So why does breastmilk return to a more colostral state as early as 6 months postpartum? It does this because your body knows that your baby is now on the move, scooting, crawling, cruising, walking, and then running! And when a baby is on the move, they get into more things. Sure they get into pots and pans and drawers that we didn’t want them to completely empty. But they also get into more germs…more pathogens, which translates to opportunity for more illness. And our body is so smart, that it changes our milk to meet that new need, by returning our milk to the colostral state. The richer milk that is naturally lower in volume and basically super charged with immunities. All this to keep our moving baby protected. As my sister, Macklen, said, after the birth of my second and while she was filming our midwife examining the placenta, “Our bodies are amazing!”

A personal account of how amazing our bodies can be, for me, happened when my middle son was 18 months old and a nursling toddler. At this stage, nursing is not like what mothers remember when they are quite young, and nursing sessions take many minutes and take up the majority of their day and night. But it is more of a ‘check-in’ policy… a quick hello and good-bye at random times through the day and usually still a great way to get them to nap and sleep. The child is also eating table foods, which considerably changes their poops. They are no longer the easy to wipe and basically odorless breastmilk yellow, runny stool. No, they are stinky, brown, adult-like, formed poo because now they are no longer just exclusively breastfeeding, but eating adult-like foods, all of which changes poo. …back to my story…

Luna was 18 months, and came down with Rotovirus. He didn’t want to eat or drink anything, and was a hot mess, tired and just wanted to nurse and lay around all day. So that is what we did. For several days, we were on the couch, like you are at one week postpartum, and he was back to nursing just as long and often as newborns do. Heck, honestly, I didn’t mind the break from routine, getting to snuggle with him, and ignore the rest of my responsibilities. Well with Rotovirus, many children get dehydrated; they cannot keep anything down and have to be admitted to the hospital for a push of IV fluids. Luna and I never had to leave the house. He never got dehydrated, because he was still nursing, and even though, he would still throw up and spend a lot of the day on the toilet, he was getting my medicinal milk. Breastmilk is so quickly digested and absorbed, that even if it stays down for under a minute, the child has already gotten some benefit of the digestion. Here is my favorite part, Luna’s diapers went all the way back to classic newborn, runny yellow with least until he started feeling better and began eating foods again! I was, and still am, so proud of how Luna and I were able to power through Rotovirus after 4-5 days of a nursing {honey}moon all on our own. Again let me re-iterate, how amazing our bodies really are!

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies should continue to breastfeed for a minimum of 1 year and thereafter as long as mutually desired. The World Health Organization recommends continuing to breastfeed a minimum of 2 years and with no upper limit. When a woman and child continue to nurse into the toddler years, the nursing relationship goes through some changes. It changes in make-up, but also has changes in the emotional relationship. It no longer is all about food and hunger…of course it never was; now it is just becoming more apparent to the mother.

Toddlers are named toddler because of all the toddling they do. And toddling leads to falls, bumps and tears. Any mother of a nursing toddler will tell you that it isn’t Neosporin, an ice compress or a cute bandage that makes it all better. It is nursing. They come running and this now bigger baby comes falling into your lap, tears a flood, and comfort is the first thing on their list. Comfort from mom. Thankfully, their mom has been teaching them this comforting skill by breastfeeding all along, maybe without knowing so herself. Coming to a loving person for comfort when they need it is a helpful skill for everyone to have, even us adults.

Everyone knows how toddlers are also famous tantrum throwers. And any mother, nursing or not, knows how rough those are and many times all you can do is wait them out. But if you are a nursing mother, suddenly your parenting toolbox just got bigger. Nursing can often calm that tantrum in a quick minute. In fact, nursing becomes such a useful tool throughout the toddler and even pre-school years, that as they age and naturally outgrow the need for nursing, as my youngest is now doing, a woman finds herself wishing that nursing could still fix everything, as it used to. But the truth is that nursing for every child does come to end at some point, and we, as mothers, have to learn, and put into action, new tools for comforting. This point of time for change and ends and new beginnings is different for us all, and every drop and every minute counted and always was full of nutrients, love and value.

Summer J Mayse, IBCLC