Parenting

Researchers: Mothers Produce More Energy-Dense Breastmilk for Boys

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What most mothers have always known has once again been validated by research. Wait for it…boys are biologically different than girls.

Not astounded? Me neither.

I’m not sure which is more absurd, stating the obvious or the fact that it must be stated—and proven. Researchers have recently discovered some new differences between males and females, and the needs of each reach far beyond what we could have imagined.

We now know that a new mother’s body produces different types of milk and her body caters to the gender of her child. If that isn’t enough, consider this: breastmilk is also altered to meet the individual needs of the infant in his particular environment.

According to ScientificAmerican.comresearchers have taken a closer peek into the wonder of humanity— and they are amazed:

Researchers at Michigan State University and other institutions found that among 72 mothers in rural Kenya, women with sons generally gave richer milk (2.8 percent fat compared with 0.6 percent for daughters). Poor women, however, favored daughters with creamier milk (2.6 versus 2.3 percent). These findings, published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology in September, echo previous work that showed milk composition varying with infant gender in gray seals and red deer and with infant gender and the mother’s condition in rhesus macaques.

Before you stamp this with an eye-roll and file it under the who-cares-about-another-study-of-tribal-women, get this: “The new study also follows findings that affluent, well-nourished moms in Massachusetts produced more energy-dense milk for male infants.”

Without a doubt, this finding is tantalizing the scientists with what they see as new glimpses into human evolution. Personally, I see it as a kick in the teeth to an ideology that believes outsourcing motherhood is an advancement of any kind.

For those of us with simplistic faith—believing that we are “wonderfully and fearfully made” and designed by the hand of a loving Creator—this news is not earth-shattering. It’s more like the ‘finding out your dad tucked away a fifty-dollar bill inside your glove box knowing you would need it’ kind of feeling. That’s just how he loves you.

I often marveled at how my newborns and I seemed to fit together as one, with two moving parts. Our bodies synchronized our needs effortlessly. Yet, I never knew just how utterly magical it all really was.

Don’t get me wrong. ‘Effortlessly’ doesn’t mean it wasn’t hard, painful and even awkward at first.

From the first moment each of my newborns began to nurse, I noticed emerging personalities. My firstborn, a son, seemed to come at nursing from the kill-it-before-you-can-eat-it standpoint. And then there was the sweet baby girl who was so timid that she seemed almost embarrassed about the entire ordeal. One of my girls would glance up at me, as if to say “I’m sorry, but I’ll only be a minute.” Another would moan with contentment so loudly she made it awkward to nurse within earshot of anyone outside our immediate family.

Too often we get caught up in moments like these and we think that’s all there is to nursing. Sometimes breastfeeding is a tough sell in the thick of bloody nipples and a 24-hour schedule. Our bodies are perfectly crafted to nurture—and we don’t even realize what an amazing job we are doing.