Last month, Pennsylvania mum-of-two Ashlee Chase took to social media to share a photo of two bags of breastmilk – one appearing white, the other, yellow.
“Why do you still let your 7-month-old nurse,’” she wrote, echoing criticism she had previously received. “‘she’s too old,’ ‘she’s just using you as a pacifier,’ ‘you need to put her in her own bed.”
“100% that’s why,” she continued. “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.”
Her post has since been shared more than 7,200 times and received over 5.7k likes.
“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,” Ashlee told Yahoo Lifestyle.
But a call to the paediatrician confirmed something incredible: the yellow tinge in the breast milk meant that her body was producing more fat and antibodies to help Elliot fight the infection.
“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,” Ashlee said.
So, how does this work exactly?
According to Leigh Anne O’Connor, a lactation consultant and La Leche League leader, when an infant is sick, the mother’s body naturally increases its white blood cell count in response.
“The baby’s saliva goes back into the breast and then the breast manufactures special milk to protect the baby,” she told Yahoo.
“This is one of nature's beautiful tricks to protect the offspring and to keep the population healthy and growing.
While breastfeeding is widely recognised to give newborns the best nutritional start in life, it’s not always the best option for all. For more information visit the Breastfeeding Helpline: 1800 686 268