Once again, the coolness of breast milk is bringing the internet to its knees.
A U.S. mom's image of a bag of yellowish breast milk — and the reason behind the colour — has gone viral since she posted it on Facebook in late September, with almost 7,500 shares and over 1,000 comments.
Pennsylvania mom Ashlee Chase posted an image of two bags of pumped breast milk with distinctly different hues, and an explanation.
"Top milk is from 3 days ago when a healthy Elliot was nursing," Chase wrote.
"Bottom is from today, after sick Elliot with a fever comfort nursed all night."
It's not the first time a bag of yellow breast milk has gone viral. A 2016 post from Arkansas mom Mallory Smothers, which also shows two different coloured bags of breast milk before and after nursing a sick baby, has been shared nearly 80,000 times.
It's science, you guys
Breast milk protects infants against infection, according to a 2013 study in Clinical & Translational Immunology. The level of leukocytes (the white blood cells that help fight infection) increase when a mother or infant is ill, which can cause breast milk to change colour.
"It is well known that human breast milk changes circumstantially," Alastair Sutcliffe, professor of general paediatrics at University College London, told The Independent.
"If there is a bug about, the mum makes greater amounts of Immunoglobulin A (IgA) in her breast milk to protect the baby from getting that bug," Sutcliffe said.
An increased amount of colostrum, which is rich in immunoglobulins, could also be behind the colour change, Sutcliffe said.
Breastfeeding is still stigmatized
The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of an infant's life, with continued nursing until age two and beyond.
But many moms, including Chase, still report feeling judged for breastfeeding. Recently, another mom made headlines for an Instagram post that said shaming a breastfeeding mom is a form of sexual harassment.
In Chase's Facebook post, she wrote that she's judged for letting her seven-month-old still nurse. The comments were largely supportive, with other moms applauding Chase's choice.
"'Why do you still let your 7month old nurse'...'she's too old' ... 'she's just using you as a pacifier,'" Chase wrote on the comments she has received.
Then, referring to her breast milk photos, she writes that this is "100% why."
Mothers who don't breastfeed, whether they're unable or choose not to, are also often stigmatized. In response to the much-touted "breast is best" messaging, a U.S. non-profit recently launched a "fed is best" campaign to support mothers whether they feed their babies with breast milk, formula, or a combination of both.
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