Whether its through bacteria or pheromones, our bodies communicate in subtle ways.
When it comes to the relationship between a mother and child, breastfeeding is an incredibly powerful tool in strengthening their bond.
In fact, breastfeeding keeps their bodies in synch and allows a mother to give her child exactly what he/she needs.
A Surprising Breastfeeding Story
Mallory Smothers, a young mother from Arkansas posted two photos of her breast milk on facebook. The first bag, on the left, looks like regular milk, watery and white.
However, the second bag is more creamy and orange. This milk closely resembles colostrum, the antibody and leukocyte-filled milk a new mother produces in the first few days after giving birth (1).
Smothers explains that these milks were produced by her just hours apart (2). Why are they so different? The answer will surprise you…
The milk to the left was pumped on a Thursday evening before Smothers and her family went to sleep.
At the time, Smothers’ daughter was displaying symptoms of congestion, irritability, and sneezing as the young mother breastfed her child overnight.
“When we got up Friday morning, I pumped, just as we always do. What I pumped is on the right side of the photo…this comes after nursing the baby with a cold all night long.”
So Why Did Her Milk Change?
A mother’s milk adapts to the needs of her child, even changing in composition according to the baby’s sex (3).
A baby’s saliva seeps into her mother’s nipple as she breastfeeds. This saliva contains virus and bacteria that signals the mother’s body about her baby’s health. Kissing her baby’s face also helps a mother’s body sample pathogens and create appropriate antibodies in her milk.
In fact, maternal and infant infections stimulate a rapid leukocyte response in breastmilk to boost the child’s immune system (4). This also done when a mother is sick to prevent her from infecting her child. These antibodies can even help neutralize life-threatening diseases like HIV (5).
Breastmilk also contains beneficial bacteria which contributes to the baby’s microbiome in his/her gut, an important part of the child’s immune system (6).