Viral Photo Shows How Breastmilk Changes for Baby's Needs

An Arkansas mom noticed her breastmilk changed when her baby was sick.

two bags of different colored breast milk

Facebook / Mallory Smothers

Can we talk about how amazing breastfeeding is for a minute?

Meet Mallory Smothers, the mom whose photo of breastmilk changing to fit her baby's needs went majorly viral.

During a late-night breastfeeding sesh on February 12, the Arkansas mama noticed her little girl was "congested, irritable, and sneezing A LOT." Smothers recalls thinking that her daughter probably had a cold.

The next morning, Smothers pumped her breasts like she always does. Only this time, she noticed something she described as "just cuckoo awesome": her breastmilk had changed color and was more yellow, resembling colostrum, the "super milk" a new parent gets when they first start breastfeeding. So, Smothers decided to post a side-by-side pic to 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," Smothers wrote in her caption.

"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. (Science backs this up. A 2013 Clinical and Translational Immunology study found that when a baby is ill, the numbers of leukocytes in its mother's breast milk spike.) So I filed that away in the back of my mind until I was packing frozen milk into the big deep freeze today."

She then got down to the business of explaining the picture:

"I pumped the milk on the left Thursday night before we laid down for bed," she said. "When we got up Friday morning, I pumped, just as we always do. What I pumped is on the right side of the photo. I didn't notice a difference until today, but look at how much more the milk I produced Friday resembles colostrum (The super milk full of antibodies and leukocytes you make during the first few days after birth) and this comes after nursing the baby with a cold all night long. Pretty awesome huh?! The human body never ceases to amaze me."

Same here, Mallory! Mad props for showing the rest of the world just how evolved (and just plain awesome) breastfeeding can be.

Hollee Actman Becker is a freelance writer, blogger, and mom. Check out her website for more, and follow her on Twitter at @holleewoodworld.

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