Breast Milk: It’s Alive!
Did you know breast milk is alive?
One of the components are little while cells called phagocytes. Phagocytes are immune cells that consume and break down bacteria, viruses and cellular debris. This, along with antibodies, is what helps keep breastfed babies healthy. For more on the antibodies in breast milk and how they work, click here.
Since breast milk is alive, you have to handle it carefully. You don’t want to kill off the beneficial live cells. Do not put pumped breast milk in the microwave. Heat it under warm (but not too hot) water. Treat your expressed breast milk gently. Don’t shake vigorously, as this too can kill the live cells. Since it’s living, it protects itself from contaminants. That is why it is safe to leave fresh, expressed breast milk unrefrigerated from 5 – 8 hours (as long as the environment is not too hot).
If you look at breast milk under a microscope, you will see cells moving around. It’s pretty amazing. We are just now beginning to learn the secrets of mother’s milk.