Do Mothers Make Different Breastmilk For Boys And Girls?
Breastmilk still has quite some mysteries around it that are yet to unfold. While you might pretty much be aware that breastmilk is the best milk for your baby, scientists are still in the process of unfolding the complex nature of human milk.
If you weren’t aware that breastmilk varies between mothers or that it might also vary depending upon whether your baby is a boy or a girl, then surely there is much more you need to learn about it. Scientists have revealed something more about breastmilk, which you would love to read about here:
1. Your baby’s sex determines the nature of breastmilk:
Katie Hinde, an evolutionary biologist at Harvard University, has been investigating as to how breastmilk can build a baby’s neurobiological, immunological and behavioral development. Through her study on monkeys and cows that make a different kind of milk
depending upon whether its baby is a male or a female, it turns out that:
- A baby girl produces more calcium in mother’s milk.
- A female child would cause milk production in high volumes, especially if the mother had not reproduced before.
- A male child would trigger mother’s milk rich in proteins and fats with low concentrations of sugar.
- A mother’s interactions with a boy or a girl child would also vary her nature of milk.
- A male child might have different feeding patterns when compared to a female child. This might alter the composition of the milk.
- The hormonal signals arising from the fetus might also have an effect on the breast and influence the milk produced when her baby is born.
Since these inferences have come from studies on mammals other than humans, we do not know if human milk behaves on these lines, but it is for certain that the nature of breastmilk alters to meet the needs of a nursing baby.
2. Mother’s diet determines the nature of breastmilk:
What a mother eats might have an effect on the amount of breastmilk she can produce. For instance:
- The types of fats in the breastmilk might depend on the types of fats a mother consumes. If she eats more of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids such as omega 3 fatty acid, then it will pretty much be prevalent in her breastmilk.
- The concentration of vitamins, iodine, and other nutrients also vary largely by what a mother eats.
3. Genetic material and breastfeeding go hand in hand:
Genetic material such as stem cells is passed onto a baby from her mother through breastmilk, which might be essential to the development of the baby’s immunity.
4. Your baby is exposed to different flavors through breastmilk:
While nursing, a mother would expose her baby to different flavors that are passed on to her milk through the diet she takes. Research also suggests that babies that exclusively breastfed for six months turn out to be less fussy eaters in their childhood. So if you wanted your children to eat healthy, you might start exposing your baby to them by consuming those yourself!
5. Bacteria in breastmilk:
- Mothers pass on the bacteria from their gut into breastmilk and then it is passed onto her baby’s gut which colonizes with healthy bacteria for long-term health benefits.
- It also turns out that different mothers have different types of oligosaccharides or prebiotics and bacteria in their breastmilk.
- The breastmilk from obese mothers contains a different and less diverse bacterial community in comparison to that of mothers of healthy weight.
- Breastmilk from mothers who had a planned C-section contains different bacterial community when compared to those who had an emergency C-section, i.e. when the mother underwent some labor before the surgery, or had a vaginal birth. The lack of hormonal signals and physiological stress could influence the bacterial transmission process to a mother’s milk.
6. Ever changing nature of breastmilk:
- The nature of breastmilk keeps changing from day one to the 30th day and so on.
- The breastmilk made for a premature baby has different concentrations of different factors to suit her baby’s needs.
- It’s interesting that when it’s time to wean, mother’s milk increases the concentration of protective immune factors to give her baby one last dose of immune protection.