One mom’s Facebook post about her breast milk is blowing the internet's mind.
Mallory Smothers, a mom from Arkansas, posted a photo showing two side-by-side bags of breast milk pumped within two days of each other. The one on the left was pumped on Thursday night, and the one on the right was pumped Friday morning after the mom had been up nursing her baby, who was coming down with a cold.
In the image, the two look strikingly different from one another.
After considering why breast milk changes colour, Smothers cited a 2013 study she had recently read from Clinical and Translational Immunology. According to researchers, the level of leukocytes, the white blood cells that help fight infection, increase when a mother or infant is ill, causing breast milk to change colour.
“This is just cuckoo awesome,” Smothers wrote on Facebook. “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. So this doctor discusses that when a baby nurses, it creates a vacuum in which the infant's saliva sneaks into the mother's nipple. There, it is believed that mammary gland receptors interpret the ‘baby spit backwash’ for bacteria and viruses and, if they detect something amiss (i.e., the baby is sick or fighting off an infection), Mom's body will actually change the milk's immunological composition, tailoring it to the baby's particular pathogens by producing customized antibodies.”
The mom also noted that the breast milk on the right resembled colostrum, a form of milk rich in antibodies and leukocytes that moms produce during the first few days after giving birth.
Since posting the photo on Valentine’s Day, Smothers’ observation about her breast milk has garnered attention from thousands of people on the internet. Many were astonished by what a mother’s body could do. “I breastfed both my 2 and found this to be very true!! Our bodies are truly amazing!!” one wrote.
Another agreed, saying: “I love how our bodies do this! But have never seen the example like this!!!! How neat!!”
While it’s now known that a change in breast milk colour can indicate illness, Alyssa Dweck, an MD at Mount Sinai School of Medicine reminded that this is not always the case and that mothers should not be alarmed if they notice a change.
“You know how Benjamin Moore has a zillion choices for white paint? It’s the same with breast milk,” she told Self. “Breast milk colour can vary based on maternal factors such as hydration or dehydration, diet, vitamins and medications.”
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