How The Female Body Drove 200 Million Years of Human Evolution by Cat Bohannon

This book was absolutely fascinating and I couldn't put it down. Digging deep into women’s bodies, from the Jurassic era to today and the power they hold. Debunking, informing, and putting women at the forefront.  While the book is wide and filled with fascinating facts, in keeping with the mothering, and feeding theme of this newsletter, I wanted to share a couple of sections about breastfeeding and the magic power of womens bodies and their connectivity to their children. So much of this was information I wish I knew while I was feeding my children to provide me with more grace, acceptance and adoration for that time.

Left breast is best

Why do so many women favour cradling their babies and nursing them from the left breast? This is the side of the face that is more expressive with the muscles slightly more adept at social signaling and feeding from this side lines our baby up to see that. 

This preference is strongest in an infants first three months of life - the mother’s left eye gazing down, interpreting her babies emotional state, while the baby looks up at the most expressive side of the mothers face, learning to read her emotions and respond. This inbuilt power is incredible.

Magic Nipples

The nipple itself is packed full of nerves to help detect that vacuum, which starts the chain reaction of oxytocin for the let-down reflex. Lining the mother’s milk ducts, from the nipple all the way to the glands, are an army of immuno-agents. And depending on what happens to be in baby’s spit that day, the mother’s breasts will change the particular composition of her milk. 

If a baby is fighting an infection, for example, various signals of that infection, from actual infectious agents like viruses and bacteria to more subtle indicators like the stress hormone cortisol, will be present in the baby’s spit. When that spit gets sucked up into the mother’s breast, the tissue reacts and her immune system will produce agents to fight the pathogen. Her milk will carry them into the baby’s mouth, providing extra soldiers to combat the infection and help the baby’s own immune system learn what it needs to fight. 
In response to raised cortisol, the milk glands and surrounding tissue will also bump up the dosage of immuno-agents in the daily brew, and it may also send down the line a number of signals to soothe the child. Some of those signals are hormonal—stuff to directly counteract the inflammatory properties of cortisol. Some of them are nutritional, with added knock-on effects to change the baby’s mood.