Having a newborn (well, 5 week old anyway) around means a return to breast milk obsession! Although cogsci-baby (#2) was able to breastfeed, I’ve returned to exclusively pumping. And I have a special relationship with my Medela Classic breast pump, crazy old skool but reliable like a Volvo station wagon.
There is lots to say about breast milk… so much that there is a whole documentary about it coming out!
Also I just want to point out one cool thing about the positive feedback loop that is the mother-and-child system. According to Katie Hinde, an assistant professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard, interviewed in this Slate article, nuzzling with your baby may change the composition of breast milk according to the infant’s needs! The example she gives is when an infant has an infection, the milk includes more immune factors. The mechanism could be as simple as a mother exchanging germs with her baby and her body creating more antibodies for herself that gets transmitted to the baby through milk. Or perhaps her body is more directly responding to the needs of the baby. Either way, another reason to snuggle with cogscibaby! It’s for my baby’s autoimmune health!
Nathan is pretty easy to snuggle with! He’s warm and sleepy and smells like a newborn with a hint of rotten breast milk.
Also I want to point out one of the most awesome scientific journal article titles I’ve run across in a while: Human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs): Every baby needs a sugar mama. Cogsci-baby can’t digest HMOs but the bacteria in his gut can! Some of the breast milk is just to help his microbiome flourish.