Mom’s photo of breast milk goes viral
Any mom who’s breastfed is familiar with piles of milk-filled plastic bags filling up the fridge and freezer. An Arkansas mom was surprised with the look of one of the bags she filled last week though, and posted an image of it on Facebook. It’s been shared over 70,000 times.
What’s so special about this photo? Mallory Smothers claims it proves that a mom’s body intuitively produces exactly what her child needs.
“This is just cuckoo awesome,” her posts starts. “I read an article from a medical journal not too long ago about how Mom’s milk changes to tailor baby’s needs in more ways than just caloric intake… when a baby nurses, it creates a vacuum in which the infant’s saliva sneaks into the mother’s nipple.” She references a 2013 study that aimed to see if pathogens in a baby’s backwash trigger the production of milk with a new immunological composition and customized antibodies. The hypothesis: a sick baby’s saliva sends messages to mom’s body, and mom’s body responds by producing a more nutrient-rich milk packed with antibodies to fight off sickness.
“I filed that away in the back of my mind until I was packing frozen milk into the big deep freeze today,” she writes. She pumped the milk on the left the night before she went to bed. Baby began to struggle in the night with what appeared to be a cold. When she pumped in the morning, she got the bag on the right: one that appears to be filled with milk that resembles colostrum, the “super milk full of antibodies and leukocytes you make during the first few days after birth.” It’s the milk she produced after nursing a sick baby all night.
“Part of the immunity that breast milk imparts, it seems, may depend in part on a mixture of milk and baby saliva flowing upstream. This backwash may actually cause a mother’s body to create made-to-order immune factors that are delivered back to the baby in milk,” writes Science News. “Through this backwash, the baby may be placing an order that helps a mother’s body cook up special-ordered germ-fighting milk…Colostrum, an early form of milk that babies get in the first few days after birth, is packed with leukocytes. As babies get older, leukocytes in breast milk naturally wane if everybody’s healthy. When an infection appears, leukocyte levels come roaring back again.”
This “special-order” theory is still a hypothesis, but biologist Katie Hinde of Arizona State University in Tempe says it’s “one that remains very likely given all that we know about physiology.”
Yup. A mom’s body is pretty, freaking amazing.