How many times have you Googled: “What color is normal for [insert baby-related thing, i.e. breast milk, poop …]?” Breast milk is typically white, blue-tinged, or yellowish — and according to Jansen Howard, a 27-year-old mom in Colorado Springs — purple and green. Purple?! Last week, Howard posted a 30-second Facebook video of a drop of breast milk under a microscope captioned: “… this is SO COOL!!!!!!!! This is the living liquid gold we call breast milk in motion!!!! …” The video has over 1.5M views and has been shared 13K times.
Howard had access to the equipment since her father is a blood microscopist and also, unfortunately, because her mother is monitoring her blood cell count using the scope during her cancer battle. But why did she analyze her breast milk?
“It started out of curiosity. My daughter had a cold and I heard that your breast milk tailors antibodies and actually changes composition based on what your baby needs. I was reading an article while nursing on how there are up to a million white blood cells in each drop of breast milk,” she told Babble (while nursing of course). “It was just so beautiful. The video doesn’t even capture all of the colors … purples, greens … a beautiful mix of shiny, colorful globs.”
The experience has taken nursing her 11-month-old daughter, Arrow Tesla, to a “whole new level” following a rocky breastfeeding relationship. Mothers often envision a lovely, smooth breastfeeding journey, right? But, reality can be vastly different — blisters, clogs, and cracks … oh my! It’s easy to feel discouraged from both physical struggles and, regrettably, lack of support. When Howard’s daughter became colicky at three months, many encouraged her to switch to a tummy-friendly formula; and when my son failed to latch due to oral weakness, loved ones suggested that I just call it quits (seriously!). Instead, I became an exclusive pumper, which, of course, brought a whole new slew of challenges. I weaned just shy of nine months and have wondered, “Was it all worth it?” I ask myself that loaded question because I’ve felt gypped of the physical bonding with Baby that comes with breastfeeding. Pumping took me away from my baby and husband quite literally — hours chained to a rhythmic machine in another room as my family played.
This week, however, Howard’s video shined a new light on breast milk for me (a shiny purple and green light, if you will). Watching those colorful “globs” gracefully move reminded me that breast milk is full of active antibodies, immune factors, enzymes, and white blood cells that benefit Baby’s immune system. My body made the perfect concoction of all the protein, sugar, and fat my son needed. Wow, it is truly miraculous. And YES, totally worth it.
Howard just posted a second video, on the request of social media followers, showing a microscope comparison of breast milk to formula. I’m not a scientist but the breast milk appears to have more cellular activity going on. Her “curious” act proved to be beautiful, interesting, and, perhaps, motivating to millions — self-included. (And to be clear, Howard is not anti-formula. She actually supplements with a homemade, doctor-approved goat’s milk-based formula. While I supplemented with off-the-shelf brands.)
As an artist, Howard is also spotlighting breastfeeding in another beautiful way with an art series. “I feel this strong pull to provide a service for other mothers by memorializing their memories because, when you are breastfeeding, there are all these little quirks that are unique to each mother and baby pair.” She explains on her artist page: “The incredible bond of a breastfeeding relationship is something that is indescribable through mere words. This is why I have had to express it through my art … There are so many idiosyncrasies that are part of a breastfeeding relationship. From the nipple twiddling to the love biting to the baby yoga while on the boob, every moment is magical, every moment is special.”
Yes, breastfeeding is beautiful … science seems to prove it.
h/t: Huffington Post