Today I collected a drawing from a framers in Bristol. A 7 by 9 foot charcoal and watercolour piece detailing all the currently known components of human milk, and explaining some of them.
It started when a friend suggested I get involved in helping with the organisation of an event running tomorrow, May 7th, at the Bristol Food Connections Festival 2015. The event is called Breastmilk – our perfect first food, and the drawing will be exhibited there.
I found it so exciting that a food festival would think to include an event about human milk being a food worthy of the same kind of attention as a classic Michel Roux Jr recipe.
Human milk does things that are not common knowledge, and it’s become my passion to share the information I’ve been unearthing over the last 2 years since having our son.
The contents and workings of our milk shouldn’t be news, because it’s Phenomenal. It does things that make me think I’m in a chemistry class in Hogwarts. It took a lot or searching to find all the details, and then it took a lactation consultant and a 4th year medical student to translate them for me.
And that’s why I stuck a ridiculously large piece of paper that kept falling down over my head to the wall and got drawing. To try to begin to make the information common knowledge and in doing so to encourage more research to be done.
There is much, MUCH more than the following, but a taste of what I’m on about it is this…
Vitamins and minerals that we all know are present only represent a very small proportion of what’s in our milk. There is a huge range of other components. Components, for instance, that dispose of harmful bacteria in different ways. By absorbing them, engulfing them, destroying them, lining the gut and preventing them from entering our baby’s blood stream, preventing them from using our baby’s iron stores to grow (pathogens need iron to thrive), etc…
And these are targeted responses to specific pathogens, because our baby’s saliva goes into our blood stream and informs us of anything harmful they have been exposed to in the last few hours. Our body immediately produces the exact antibodies for that specific infection, and feeds it back to our babies via our milk within the hour.
There is a component known to kill cancerous cells. There are components that reduce inflammation, and others that are painkillers. There are stem cells, cells that are being used in medical research to cure conditions like Alzheimers. There are hormones, and one that induces relaxation and a feeling of love in the baby and the mother. This is the same hormone, oxytocin, that is released in our system when someone we love gives us a long hug, holds our hand, tells us how beautiful we are… On and on, and there is a lot more to find out in future research.
And while we’re on the subject of food, our milk takes on the flavours of the foods we eat, so our babies get a feast for their taste buds at every feed too.
I’m not a scientist, (and I’m not a painter!), I’m a mother who got curious. I have soooo much more to learn. But it’s too damn exciting and I want to start sharing this over and over.
You know what I think would help women feel beautiful, worthy, confident? Not clothes, not make-up, not a sexy date, and sod creams that promise to keep us looking young. Simply knowing ourselves. Because we are phenomenal. We are phenomenal in our sleep, we are phenomenal before we even try to be anything. And to know stuff we just have to get curious.
So lets do this Ladies, lets get wildly curious…
Thank you to Dominique Sakoilsky of Relaxed Birth and Parenting for blowing my mind on the topic of birthing and womanhood generally, and starting this whole thing off, to Emma Pickett IBCLC and James Walmsley who collated and translated the contents of human milk with me, to Eva Fernandes of Born in Bristol for overseeing the Food Connections event organisation and being unshakeably encouraging, and to Michel Roux Jr for being completely delicious and sharing his passion so beautifully with us.
PRINTS ARE NOW AVAILABLE…!
If prints of this drawing can contribute to making a difference to how women (and men) view breastfeeding and their own powerful capabilities, then I am one happy lady.
If you would like a print of the drawing, please choose a size at
http://breastfeedingthoughts.com/2015/05/06/the-composition-of-human-milk/ and place your order. Scroll down below the UK selection if you are ordering from anywhere in the world outside our little UK island. Thank you! The parcels will be dispatched unframed by recorded delivery from Niche Frames in Bristol.
If you are a charity or in education, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for a discounted rate.
A full size (200cm by 272cm) print is available, printed on vinyl with a dibond hard back. If you would like to look into this, please email email@example.com.