A few of the many reasons why breast milk is amazing
It's 4AM and I'm wide awake. My wife and I have had maybe 3 or 4 uninterrupted nights' sleep in the 227 days since our son is born; each time I'm up, I remind myself just how *magical* breastfeeding is and the tiredness (and sometimes annoyance and frustration) melts away. *Note: I am not a 'lactivist', just a massive fan of biology and science.
- •You can make human out of itLiterally *everything* my son needed to more than double in weight and grow 12 cm taller his first six months was in the breast milk produced by my wife. My son takes all these essential proteins and sugars and nutrients and builds more human out of them.
- •Breast milk is absolutely uniqueMy son’s breast milk is essentially tailor-made for him, based on his needs and my wife's condition
- •Breast milk follows a circadian rhythmMilk produced at night has more of the hormones (specifically melatonin and tryptophan) that help him get to sleep.
- •Immune protection is dynamicMy wife’s areola absorbs my son’s spit, her body reacts to any infections he might have and she transfers the relevant and necessary protective antibodies back to him through the milk she produces.
- •He eats what she eatsHe’s started weaning so eats pretty much what we eat now as proper solids, but in his first 4 months on breast milk alone, he was also getting a small and safe taste of whatever my wife had been eating. If she’d eaten a particularly spicy curry he’d have known about it. Being exposed to lots of tastes is going to help him tolerate and enjoy different foods in the future. Which is important because I want him to love food as much as I do.
- •Side note:Most other mammals tend to have less conspicuous mammary glands that protrude only while actually filling with milk. Only women, probably for reasons of sexual selection and visible signs of health and fertility, have evolved unusually large (relative to body size) constantly protruding breasts. (I hadn’t really thought about/known this until I was reading up on references for this list!
- •ReferencesEngler AC., et al. Breastfeeding may improve nocturnal sleep and reduce infantile colic: Potential role of breast milk melatonin. Eur J Ped. 2011 Hassiotou F., et al. Maternal and infant infections stimulate a rapid leukocyte response in breastmilk. Clin Transl Immunology 2013 Hausnera H., et al. Differential transfer of dietary flavour compounds into human breast milk Phys & Beh. 2008