Monday, July 28, 2008

Moo Moo and Boo Boo: Musing on Mothers

I have learnt many things this weekend. Primarily, that even though your little baby boy is occasionally nicknamed 'Boo Boo,' his lactating mother DOES NOT appreciate the nickname 'Moo Moo.'

Secondly, if the flammable methane generated by the three-week old could somehow be harnessed, America would end it's petrol crisis overnight. We discovered this because yesterday, the Hulme household was hit by a whole different kind of 'gas crisis.'

Wifey threatened to give up all sorts of foodstuffs to help eliminate the problem. Meanwhile, I did lots of research into why babies get so gassy from their mother's milk.

Anecdotally, many mothers have observed that when they eat gas-inducing foods, like Broccoli and other vegetables, their babies get gassy as a result.

However, this commonly accepted 'fact' apparently has no basis in science whatsoever. The body metabolizes food before it's turned into milk, so whether Mum's milk originated as broccoli and sprouts, or a ham sandwich, the actual milk itself is identical. It should (according to the books) have no effect on baby's digestion whatsoever.

This isn't true of all food, though. Mothers are advised to avoid alcohol while pregnant and moderate themselves when breast feeding, since alcohol enters the bloodstream and, as a result, gets transferred (at a much reduced percentage) to her milk. Therefore, baby would benefit from more than just the nutrients and celery if Mummy had an early-evening Bloody Mary. He could get bombed off it as well!

Caffeine has a similar effect. It can be transferred to baby through Mum's milk. The curious this about caffeine, though, is that baby reacts to it cumulatively. If Mum drinks one cup of coffee too many one day, baby might not react. If she repeats the next day, there still might be no effect on baby - but on the third day (and the third excess cup of coffee) baby's system will suddenly react as if Mum had gulped down three cups of Hot Lava Java all in one sitting.

The result? One wired infant. Beatnik Baby, if you will. Unfortunately they don't do black berets and turtlenecks in newborn sizes.

Finally, while I've mentioned that foods which cause Mum to gas up don't have the same effect on baby - strongly flavoured foods DO effect the way Mum's milk tastes.

If she eats lots of garlic, for example (which is a staple in our house) she doesn't just sweat garlic afterwards - her milk actually tastes like it. This is because strong flavours permeate everything - including Mummy's milk factory.

That's not a bad thing, though. Doctors say that the flavour of Mum's milk often helps baby develop certain culinary preferences even before he's eating solid food. For example, an Indian baby will grow up with a taste for curry because that's what his Mum's milk tastes like. Similarly, a French baby (or our baby) will enjoy the taste of garlic because his Mum is fed spoonfuls of it every time Dad decides to cook. Presumably, a British baby will grow up disliking anything that's got more flavour to it than a steamed carrot.

It's amazing all the things you learn raising kids! It's also amazing just how much work is involved looking after something that weighs less than 10lbs. Our baby generates more than that in dirty nappies every day. It's a relief to go to work (although I feel guilty leaving Mum at home with the milk-vampire to feed.)

Also - how crazy is the whole milk-making process? My wife is literally a food factory. She makes baby's breakfast, lunch, dinner, elevenses, three o'clock snack, midnight feast and sunrise Slurpee. As far as our son's concerned, she's an all-you-can-eat buffet that changes his nappy as well.

What astounds me is the effect breastfeeding is having on Tina's body. The weight is falling off of her. She's still got the same soft skin she had when she was pregnant, but the rest of her body is tightening up, slimming down and suddenly reverting to the same eminently enviable curves she had when I first met her. Weight watchers look out...


Suki said...

Your post is making me imagine a wide-eyed young boy looking at the wonders of the world for the first time :).
And yeah, I've heard/read that stuff about gas-inducing foods too. Homeopathy and antibiotics also affect breastmilk, as far as I've heard.

Kitty said...

Tell your wife to squirt breast milk in your tea or coffee if you call her Moo Moo again.

I found that if I ate some vegetables (especially onions) my kids wouldn't sleep well that night. My experience was that other's milk is definitely affected by what they eat.


The Chemist said...

Homeopathy has about as much effect on breastmilk as breathing air. I can guarantee it.

I wonder if when the mother gets gas, it affects her physical posture and breastfeeding habits enough enough for the baby to ingest copious quantities of air.

Either that, or the mother gets lots of gas and well, it's something on the order of blaming the dog.

Brit' Gal Sarah said...

The Hubster wanted to know what was making me chuckle away out loud - if only the nations gas crisis could be so easily solved!'s are't supposed to get horny mate! LOL

Coffee Bean said...

My husband called me the Dairy Queen. That is definitely better than Moo Moo.