What we don’t know about mother’s milk | Katie Hinde


Have you ever heard the one
about how breastfeeding is free? (Laughter) Yeah, it’s pretty funny, because it’s only free if we don’t value
women’s time and energy. Any mother can tell you
how much time and energy it takes to liquify her body — to literally dissolve herself — (Laughter) as she feeds this precious
little cannibal. (Laughter) Milk is why mammals suck. At Arizona State University, in the Comparative Lactation Lab, I decode mothers’ milk composition to understand its complexity and how it influences infant development. The most important thing that I’ve learned is that we do not do enough
to support mothers and babies. And when we fail mothers and babies, we fail everyone
who loves mothers and babies: the fathers, the partners,
the grandparents, the aunties, the friends and kin
that make our human social networks. It’s time that we abandon
simple solutions and simple slogans, and grapple with the nuance. I was very fortunate to run smack-dab
into that nuance very early, during my first interview
with a journalist when she asked me, “How long should a mother
breastfeed her baby?” And it was that word “should”
that brought me up short, because I will never tell a woman
what she should do with her body. Babies survive and thrive because their mother’s milk
is food, medicine and signal. For young infants, mother’s milk is a complete diet that provides all the building
blocks for their bodies, that shapes their brain and fuels all of their activity. Mother’s milk also feeds the microbes that are colonizing
the infant’s intestinal tract. Mothers aren’t just eating for two, they’re eating for two to the trillions. Milk provides immunofactors
that help fight pathogens and mother’s milk provides hormones
that signal to the infant’s body. But in recent decades, we have come to take milk for granted. We stopped seeing
something in plain sight. We began to think of milk as standardized,
homogenized, pasteurized, packaged, powdered,
flavored and formulated. We abandoned the milk of human kindness and turned our priorities elsewhere. At the National Institutes of Health in Washington DC is the National Library of Medicine, which contains 25 million articles — the brain trust of life science
and biomedical research. We can use keywords
to search that database, and when we do that, we discover nearly a million
articles about pregnancy, but far fewer about
breast milk and lactation. When we zoom in on the number of articles
just investigating breast milk, we see that we know much more
about coffee, wine and tomatoes. (Laughter) We know over twice as much
about erectile dysfunction. (Laughter) I’m not saying we shouldn’t
know about those things — I’m a scientist, I think
we should know about everything. But that we know so much less — (Laughter) about breast milk — the first fluid a young mammal
is adapted to consume — should make us angry. Globally, nine out of 10 women will
have at least one child in her lifetime. That means that nearly 130 million
babies are born each year. These mothers and babies
deserve our best science. Recent research has shown
that milk doesn’t just grow the body, it fuels behavior
and shapes neurodevelopment. In 2015, researchers discovered that the mixture of breast milk
and baby saliva — specifically, baby saliva — causes a chemical reaction
that produces hydrogen peroxide that can kill staph and salmonella. And from humans and other mammal species, we’re starting to understand
that the biological recipe of milk can be different when produced
for sons or daughters. When we reach for donor milk
in the neonatal intensive care unit, or formula on the store shelf, it’s nearly one-size-fits-all. We aren’t thinking about how sons
and daughters may grow at different rates, or different ways, and that milk may be a part of that. Mothers have gotten the message and the vast majority of mothers
intend to breastfeed, but many do not reach
their breastfeeding goals. That is not their failure; it’s ours. Increasingly common medical conditions
like obesity, endocrine disorders, C-section and preterm births all can disrupt the underlying
biology of lactation. And many women do not have
knowledgeable clinical support. Twenty-five years ago, the World Health Organization
and UNICEF established criteria for hospitals to be
considered baby friendly — that provide the optimal level
of support for mother-infant bonding and infant feeding. Today, only one in five babies
in the United States is born in a baby-friendly hospital. This is a problem, because mothers can grapple
with many problems in the minutes, hours, days
and weeks of lactation. They can have struggles
with establishing latch, with pain, with milk letdown and perceptions of milk supply. These mothers deserve
knowledgeable clinical staff that understand these processes. Mothers will call me as they’re
grappling with these struggles, crying with wobbly voices. “It’s not working. This is what I’m supposed
to naturally be able to do. Why is it not working?” And just because something
is evolutionarily ancient doesn’t mean that it’s easy
or that we’re instantly good at it. You know what else
is evolutionarily ancient? (Laughter) Sex. And nobody expects us
to start out being good at it. (Laughter) Clinicians best deliver
quality equitable care when they have continuing education about how to best support
lactation and breastfeeding. And in order to have
that continuing education, we need to anchor it
to cutting-edge research in both the life sciences
and the social sciences, because we need to recognize that too often historical traumas and implicit biases sit in the space between
a new mother and her clinician. The body is political. If our breastfeeding support
is not intersectional, it’s not good enough. And for moms who have to return for work, because countries like the United States
do not provide paid parental leave, they can have to go back in as short
as just a few days after giving birth. How do we optimize
mother and infant health just by messaging
about breast milk to moms without providing
the institutional support that facilitates
that mother-infant bonding to support breastfeeding? The answer is: we can’t. I’m talking to you, legislators, and the voters who elect them. I’m talking to you, job creators
and collective bargaining units, and workers, and shareholders. We all have a stake
in the public health of our community, and we all have a role
to play in achieving it. Breast milk is a part
of improving human health. In the NICU, when infants are born
early or sick or injured, milk or bioactive constituents in milk
can be critically important. Environments or ecologies, or communities where there’s
high risk of infectious disease, breast milk can be incredibly protective. Where there are emergencies
like storms and earthquakes, when the electricity goes out, when safe water is not available, breast milk can keep babies
fed and hydrated. And in the context of humanitarian crises, like Syrian mothers fleeing war zones, the smallest drops can buffer babies
from the biggest global challenges. But understanding breast milk
is not just about messaging to mothers and policy makers. It’s also about understanding
what is important in breast milk so that we can deliver better formulas to moms who cannot or do not
breastfeed for whatever reason. We can all do a better job of supporting the diversity
of moms raising their babies in a diversity of ways. As women around the world struggle to achieve political,
social and economic equality, we must reimagine motherhood as not the central,
core aspect of womanhood, but one of the many potential facets
of what makes women awesome. It’s time. (Applause)

100 thoughts on “What we don’t know about mother’s milk | Katie Hinde”

  1. >Walk up to random woman
    "Excuse me, could you breast feed my child? My lady friend seems to have uh, seems to have wandered off."

  2. Infant nutrition and breast feeding are not woman's issues alone. These are human issues. All of us benefit from the proper nurture of all our children. Can anyone seriously argue otherwise? No.

    I think we also agree that the fundamentals supporting society are a part of the commons and should be supported by all. Roads, water, disease control, education, defense are ready examples. Health and welfare should be as well if we all benefit from them. Paid family leave, day care, and universal health care are as important as applying science to mother's milk. But mother's milk and infant nutrition are low hanging fruit. We can start there.

  3. Honestly she makes plenty of good points, in terms of a need for infrastructure and in terms of the science of this issue. Just because the talk is about an issue involving women doesn't make it feministic or bullshit. It's actually a great TED talk with a ridiculous amount of hate directed towards it by people who probably didn't even finish watching it. >…..>

  4. i am aiming to do more research into breast milk, its origins, and effects on humans. I'm now looking for volunteers to aid me in my research. Any interested females, feel free to get in contact. 😉

  5. What we do know about Mothers Milk: it was a fantastic early record by The Red Hot Chili Peppers 🌶

  6. Nursing did take an immense amount of my time but I was grateful for the peaceful bonding time I had with my babies even though the nursing time was mandatory. I nursed them until they were toddlers.
    I remember my mom told me that "nursing is uncouth". I had absolutely no support but it was one of the best things I've done.

  7. What I got from her opening statement: "Women are too busy to breastfeed their children". So first you throw them in daycare to be raised by a stranger, and now you're saying you don't even want to breastfeed your own children? How selfish can you be?

  8. mothers milk if, the mother, is fed proper food, which Monsanto has done away with, then mothers milk would be purely fantastic for the beginning stages of an infants growth. eating for two might get this woman killed by femi-nazi's who'd take that as a separate entity within an individual claiming its nothing more than a cancer until it is allowed to come out of the body the way all other cancers come out of the body which is cut out or poisened out of dead and lifeless. mothers with this mentality poisen their unborn babies without chemotherapy.

  9. I absolutely agree that we should research breast milk more. I do not agree with the heavy feminist tones and ways of thinking of the talk.

  10. I have questions :
    1. [suppose babies are orphaned at birth they too need milk ] then can human milk be artificially prepared (I mean with latest tech and research 😕)
    2. isn't H2O2 harmful if consumed

  11. I agree that breast milk is important for babies, I don't agree that your baby obligates me in the slightest, or that breastfeeding is somehow intersectional.

  12. No idea where she lives, but every hospital and nutritionist recommend breast milk and can and will list lots of benefits that has been proven by many researchers.
    The problems she's talking about are all due to the lack of awareness of the public due to their own lack of interest, and the small amount of articles about breast milk, is because it's benefits had already been proven and tested also it is harder topic to research on (at least compared to coffee and tomato) and it's harder to get funds for it.

  13. ( 233 ) Mothers may breastfeed their children two complete years for whoever wishes to complete the nursing [period]. Upon the father is the mothers' provision and their clothing according to what is acceptable. No person is charged with more than his capacity. No mother should be harmed through her child, and no father through his child. And upon the [father's] heir is [a duty] like that [of the father]. And if they both desire weaning through mutual consent from both of them and consultation, there is no blame upon either of them. And if you wish to have your children nursed by a substitute, there is no blame upon you as long as you give payment according to what is acceptable. And fear Allah and know that Allah is Seeing of what you do.
    Sura Al-Baqara Verse 233
    holy quran

  14. So, we're pretty sure breast milk is really important, but we don't know for sure yet how important. Someone should do something about it. You don't need 10 minutes to say that. This could have been a lot more informative.

  15. Why has society become so people struggle to afford to have children and care properly for them (Stay at home parent.) in the richest countries?
    And people do need help with this in the west and need to also get some determination to not give up.
    After your over the start it's actually a lot easier as no bottles to sterilise to carry about.
    And drop all the feminists crap.
    It's on everyone's interest and we don't need bullshit politics added to an issue.

  16. Of course feminist dislike before watching the video.

    They problably don't even know what she was talking about

  17. I feel like TED should start giving trigger warning for talks given by women, or about women. I see too many triggered tough guys in these comments.

  18. This just goes to prove that anything that even has the balls to say "Hey, women might actually be important too" gets the anti-feminism troll squad raiding the video

  19. Every Mother should teach their children the importance of Breast feeding, maybe if new mother's stopped having whispered in their ears that "Your baby isn't getting enough! You should put them on formula…" I was riddled with guilt when I was looking for help and support as a new mother 27 years ago at the age of 20….. Nurse's can't all help breastfeeding mom's! Do they really have the time and do they have any real experience in the department? lol. Experience and Empathy is a great start! Mom's should coaching new mother's and I would volunteer for the job….

  20. Watched 40 seconds, she talks about how women are wasting time and energy breastfeeding babies. Sorry, I didn't realize breastfeeding you own baby was a time waster; let me guess that the rest of the video is how women should get paid for it right? They should be paid for bonding with their babies. Yep.

  21. Why do i have the feeling that many of those dislikes are just because she is a woman and/or its not about technical things….

    I mean i am not a femist or something but the community on the channel seems to be fast triggered at some point. Maybe because some uploads on this channel? I dont know. can you guys tell me?

  22. I was hoping to learn more things about the effects of mothers milk (immunization, growth etc.), half or more of this video is just whining that American's are prudes that panic at the sight of a breastfeeding woman… Sorry TED, downvote for a misleading title. The presentation as a whole was bad. Some of her points sound made up – I know of no nutritionist or doctor that doesn't recommend breastfeeding a baby if possible.
    Imho the real problem with feeding infants is the modern day ideal what a baby should look like. The commercials slap chubby looking babies, suggesting that babies should gain weight quickly and be fat, hence parents are inclined to use supplements like grains to feed their babies instead of mother's milk. That's the issue.

  23. Why give info that shows the richness of mother's milk and then pretend it's a breach of her rights if we promulgate breastfeeding as the best thing? Why pretend it's only up to the mother, no judgment allowed, to decide if she wants to give this advantageous beginning to their children? Why is it MY failure of a mother doesn't choose to lactate? It doesn't require 'knowledgable, professional' staff to help a woman to nurse her child. It takes a caring mother who takes the time to reassure and encourage a woman who is starting out. Also, it's not something you do on a timetable. No one can throw money at the problem and fix it. Woman need to disconnect from other careers and invest the necessary time to meet that tiny dependant child's needs. It takes her life laid down for a short number of years but ensures real understanding, nurturing and nutrition for the child. Why act like anyone can be paid to do that with the care and sensitivity a mother can? If a woman isn't able slow down enough to breastfeed, why even bother to have children? If it's OK for woman to have Me Time, Romantic Get-Aways with her mate, then why not say clearly the child deserves something too.

  24. Hey, you, the one angry about the intro and the presentation about this video, please watch the full video before leaving a comment that shows you're displeased with it. It's actually very informative and interesting

  25. You lost me at paid off time for birth I have 2 kids and my wife wanted to be a stay at home mom and if you say that you can't down size and instead of top of the line new content get so so mediocre content and less of it other than that spot on!

  26. I'm going to start off disclosing that I am a male and I truly feel for the women's equality movement. I feel compelled to mention that first off because I agree with your message that we do not know enough about breastfeeding and it unfortunately doesn't get discussed enough. However, the way you presented this point was terrible. You started off what I thought would be an educational discussion with anger. I don't feel that women's time is worthless by any means but really? I feel you are being a little sensitive about such a general statement. Nothing in life is free but in the context of saving money while providing a child with huge health benefits, breast milk is certainly a thrifty solution. With that said, the thing that angered me is your flawed science. That graph is taken out of context completely. You cannot simply take an amount of articles written about a topic and translate that to a fact that less is known about one thing over another. You are absolutely making a mockery of science and a disservice to women by doing that as well as not "telling a women what she should do with her body". I think any new mother wonders that question. So you write it off as not worth your time to discuss the facts that you do know? I hate the political climate we are in just as much as you do but you should have made a better choice of presenting your argument or another platform. I am not sure of your credentials but as a very inexperienced soon to be nurse, I find so much error in the way you don't ever educate on anything but vent your anger. You are not solving the problems you wish to fix by acting this way. Sorry, but I expected better from this. Keep fighting the good fight but don't provide alternative facts like the other side. Women deserve more than that.

  27. When I was born, my mother wanted to breastfeed. Since her own mother never did so, the Lactation specialist of the hospital came to see her. My mother was build to breastfeed. She had enough milk to feed three baby of my size. And still, she wasn't able to feed me. It's only when her sister-in-law showed her what to do that everything finally worked out. It turned out that the so call specialist the hospital had send to her had never even breastfed herself and that almost none of her patients were able to. Yet the hospital employed her, forgetting what was their actual role. We certainly need more baby friendly hospitals.

  28. this makes tons of sense. those who think otherwise are missing the point. political yes, she is taking about humanity from its starting point.

  29. This hits home for me and so many other parents. There is so much stigma and bias for breastfeeding in the US. Nearly no parents get paid time off and only get 3 months before having to come back to work IF they've worked a year. Breastfeeding is a full time job. I, like a rare few, am a mom who exclusively pumped breastmilk to give it to my baby because she was born with a lip tie which prevented her from getting a decent latch and insurance wouldn't cover a surgical procedure to fix the issue of course because the US doesn't see the importance of it. And I know many men who lactated once their babies were born yet they wouldn't breastfeed because in our close-minded country, men don't do that. Breastfeeding is very undervalued and I agree that it is unacceptable.

  30. Is this an issue here the lack of publications (research funding) and legislation or the lack of education?

    0:11 "Have you ever heard the one about how breastfeeding is free?…Because it's only free if we don't value women's time and energy?" In an economic sense, milk is free. Although it is implied in this video, this doesn't mean that I don't value a woman's time and energy. 2:57 If there was money to be made in breast milk, like there is coffee, wine and tomatoes, we would likely see more publications on breast milk. Maybe there is money – I don't know. In addition there is economic drive to improve the quality of these products. Does this mean we as a society fail because we place more value in economic returns? Not necessarily. The decision to breastfeed and how long to breastfeed is a personal decision based on the values of an individual person. The decision to breastfeed seems pretty common sense to me. Like nearly everything, the heart of the issue is values. How do we change our priorities? Values are changed through early indoctrination, in other words education. In a village, the women teach girls the nature of female things and the men teach the boys the nature of male things.

    As is common nowadays, topics that goes against modern values are treated with snark. It's a smug approach and is intended to make a point without having to put more effort to real analysis and discussion on topics. As a village, we should get serious about parenting education. If you want to complain about lack of priorities, think about all the history classes we have had over the years and all the dates, names and places that flee us now that we had to remember. Maybe we could replace half of those history/geography classes with life classes.

    I would rather have in person discussion on this topic to get some viewpoints rather than a one-sided rambling post. But, I don't think I'm too far off the mark. Your thoughts?

  31. "Baby friendly hospitals" are horrifying for women who choose something other than breastfeeding. They are harassed, provided with misinformation, and made to feel ashamed. Baby friendly hospitals lock up formula. I recommend that women who choose to bottle feed, bring an advocate with them to the hospital to handle the "lactation consultants" and their own formula. Here baby-friendly hospitals are not baby friendly.

  32. If you drink cows milk you're still breastfeeding. But you're also stealing another baby's milk, from a mother who was raped. Go vegan

  33. what she noticed about pregnancy articles at the national library of medicine in 03:40 is that we know twice much about ED more than about breast feeding is giving us a hint or a clue that our civilization is targeting consumers

  34. I have no idea of the quality of breastmilk research but comparing it to pregnancy which has killed more people than several wars combined even in 2015 (WHO put it at 303000)? And as far as I know coffee is actually well researched. Wine and erectile dysfunction are big money. (No idea about the tomatoes)

    I agree it's important to know as much as possible about breastmilk but this video doesn't even touch on the topic of what we don't know about breastmilk.

    She talks more about everything around it and what we do know.

  35. this woman is more political than scientist, throwing her "progressive" propaganda from start to finish, had she sticked to the issue of the mother's milk consistent with the title, the talk would have been much more interesting, but she just used the title as a hook, I feel sad for her… waste of time.

  36. so… a researcher of breast milk is gets crazy bent out of shape ("I would never tell a woman what to do with her body") if someone who doesn't research breast milk asks if she has an opinion on how long to breast feed… that's not how you educate or inform. This person is a terrible representation of a scientist.

  37. The first month after my daughter was born I had the same struggle for not be able to feed her the way I'd like to. Both my nipples were badly bruised and the supply was minimal. Nothing from the nurses really worked and I could only power through myself. I agree we need more studies on breastfeeding it's got nothing to do with feminism, it's about protecting your wives and children.

  38. wow love the way that she delivers her idea. i have disagrement on only one thing that how promoting such important cause may creat misconception or why she is not focusing on spreading this message in the public.

  39. Why are so many people judging this woman just because she said some feminist things? When did that become wrong? Every struggle she said is real, she's not making mothers look like victims , she's just arguing as someone who knows all the scientific stuff and has probably gone through this situation too.

  40. why are you all mad about this? it's fact. and you don't even have to be a feminist to support this. what is wrong with you people?

  41. This video achieves the opposite of its intention. Rather than empowering mothers, it stigmatises mothers who do not breastfeed. It is disappointing to see such an archaic approach, rather than an acceptance of maternal (and paternal) autonomy.

  42. She is educated on breast milk and she made it a political statement , why not spend your time hunting down the statistics she says we need

  43. There is nothing to research on breastfeeding or mothers milk. The nature has done the research for thousands of years. Ironically it's the Western societies, who are allegedly educated, in the past few decades have tried to put a handbrake on this.
    How long a mother should breastfeed? For as long it is needed.

  44. This talk did not explain to me what we don't know about breast milk, and spent little time talking about what we need to find out about breastmilk or what most people don't know about breastmilk.

  45. Her talk is fairly fascinating. Unfortunately she makes women seem as a victim to all social injustice. All she takes a jab at men, "erectile dysfunction ". Her talk would be great if her mode of speaking was more well round for men and women. Also not be offending. Because of this she is a turn off.

  46. No gurantee for paid maternity leave in USA! That's another reason added to my mental list when explaining to someone why USA is dumb and inhumane and hypocrite.

  47. Milk is soooo important BUT being a mother is the patriarchy and an oppression towards women!! xD

    These idiots don't even realize their contradictions..

  48. No. I don't want to pay for your stupid parental leave or your breast milk or any of your intersectional bullshit through increasing taxes. Make a private charity and whoever wants to donate can help you. Not my kid, not my wife, and certainly not my problem.

  49. We already research breast milk way more than you'd think, we just haven't done it in the US until recently. I've designed breast pumps as an engineer and was part of a team that launched a milk bank in the US and part of that included reviewing and participating in breast milk research. If you're interested in learning more, or seeing what the most cutting edge research tells us, I'd start with research done at the University of Western Australia from Dr. Hartmann's team. Will straight up blow your mind.

  50. Back,in the late eighties,I gave birth to a healthy baby in the third year of married life.Milk wasn't coming easy with the First Born.A nurse took me out on the corridor of the hospital,made me lean against the wall,and warned me,pain was coming and grabbed my right breast squeezing it badly! Crucial in both my baby's and my life! No complications at birth,very bad consequences of the forced breast.Milk did come,along with an inflammation.After a month,I had to stop breastfeeding.Antibiotics followed for me and sleepless nights for the family,until my child got used to the formula.
    He's a healthy man,now, generally,in early childhood he , however,suffered from bronchitis for years.
    Now,I'm closer to sixty than fifty and still wake up with severe pain in my right side of the body.I did medical check-up.Was to recuperating facilities.They eased my pain.Never the horror of those early days of "breast feeding". Something broke in me!

  51. American society obviously is against women breastfeeding so it takes an intuitive woman to do research for herself in regards to breastfeeding and such and think for herself. When you go to a hospital to have a baby, the medical staff treats women as inferior and not evolved enough to instinctively know the capabilities of her own body. There's so many interferences in pregnancy and birthing a baby that are not necessary. The medical system in America is so corrupt and that is the sad reality.

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