Breastmilk is amazing!


The Science of Human Milk is pretty fantastic. There are hundreds of substances in Human Milk that feed our babies while helping them be healthy and grow optimally. In this article, to stimulate your interest, I am going to write about 4 wonderful components and then give you a link for you to find out more about them and other marvellous ingredients in Human Milk.

In each millilitre of milk there are up to a million cells, all the cells that are in our blood are in milk with the exception of Red Blood cells, and this is why human milk is commonly referred to as ‘White Blood’. In 2007 Australian scientists discovered that human milk contained Stem Cells, cells that when stimulated can change to become any tissue in the body such as bone, fat, liver and brain cells as well as many more, and which are used to help kids recover from chemotherapy treatment for Leukaemia. Scientists have found out, by studying animal studies, that after the baby animals drink their mother’s milk that contains stem cells too, these stem cells from the mothers can be later found in the baby animals’ brains! This is really brilliant as it helps us understand that the stem cells in our milk are probably going into our babies’ bodies and repairing and replacing any problems that occurred while they were being made in our wombs. Isn’t this so beautiful!

In each millilitre there are also up to a million microbes – bacteria, fungi and viruses – which are all friendly and needed to make the microbiome which helps us function properly. This Microbiome was only recently discovered as an Organ and it weights around 1 kilo in an adult. When our gut microbiome is healthy so is our brain and our well-being.  Interestingly our Human Milk not only contains perfect food for our babies but it also contains perfect food for all the microbes! Our milk contains over 200 different types of sugars, called ‘Human Milk Oligosaccharides’ or HMOs, most of which babies can’t absorb as food, but the microbes can! So not only does human milk feed the baby it also feeds the really important microbes to make our microbiomes. Recent research has also shown that these sugars help protect our babies from infections and diarrhoea and even constipation! So, sugars are good for babies when in human milk but not when part of sweets!!!

The next cool thing in milk is HAMLET which stands for this Human Alpha-lactoalbumin Made lethal to Tumor cells. This substance which is activated in the baby’s tummy can kill abnormal and cancer cells. Discovered in 1990’s, it is currently being tested for use as a medicine to fight cancer! And we can feed it to our babies. Super. So, like the stem cells, scientists think HAMLET can find any abnormal cell, attach to them and make them die, thus reducing the risk of our babies getting cancer. This fits with studies that find that babies who breastfeed suffer less from leukaemia and other childhood cancers.

The last thing going to talk about is Oxytocin which is contained in our milk. This is often called the ‘feel good hormone’ and is the hormone that we produce when we fall in Love. Babies both drink the oxytocin and produce it themselves on feeding, allowing them to feel love through the milk and makes them feel safe and protected. It is really important for babies to feel safe. When they feel this way, they grow up to become confidence and happy adults. When a mother breastfeeds, she also gets a rush of oxytocin into her own body and is filled with a feeling of contentedness and love for her baby. This helps mums bond with their babies. When we examine the science of oxytocin, we see that it helps to reduce stress in our bodies by lowering Cortisol, the stress hormone, which if elevated all the time can be very toxic and damaging to both the baby and the mother. It also increases production of opioids in the baby, which are pain relieving substances like morphine! So if our baby gets hurt or is getting vaccinated breastfeeding is a great way to help them manage their pain.

So, if you are interested in more and have a computer, link into this cool infographic all about these and other cool components of human milk:

Thank you for reading. Please feel free to contact me if you are interested in learning more or having me talk to a group you feel would like to learn more about the Marvels of Human Milk.

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Safer Internet Day takes place next Tuesday, 7th February 2023. Sadly more than 1 in 4 young people in Ireland have experienced cyberbullying, yet only 60% of victims tell their parents. As teenagers and children spend more time on the internet, ensuring it's a safe space is ever more important. To encourage conversation about life online and help parents keep their children safe, I'd like to share a free resource created by It's a comprehensive guide which includes things like:
  • How to reduce the risks online
  • How to recognise cyber bullying and grooming
  • How to educate children on cyber safety
  • How to set up parental controls on devices
I thought it may be useful to share the link to the guide - - which you can include on your website ahead of Safer Internet Day, to help parents and children who may need some extra support. We've also put together some handy top tips you can use on your website: 10 tips to keep your children safe online
  1. Talk about it:Make time to chat about online risks and how to use the internet safelyas soon as they're old enough to go online. Encourage your children to speak to you about what they view online and empower them to act if they're worried about anything.
  2. Recognise the risks: Educate yourself about the potential dangers children could face online so  it’s easier to spot warning signs. Get to know what platforms your children use, and learn about dangers such as phishing, grooming and cyberbullying.
  3. Teach the do's and don'ts: Be clear about the non-negotiables.  For example, teach your child not to share personal details or photos with strangers and instruct them not to click on links to unknown websites or texts. Do encourage your child to question what they see and only accept friend requests from people they know.
  4. Spot the signs: Pay attention to your children's behaviour whilst on and off their devices. Being alert to changes in your child can help prevent problems from escalating. Some warning signs are withdrawing from friends or family, sleeping and eating problems or losing interest in previously loved hobbies or interests.
  5. Set boundaries:Let your children know what they can and can't do on the internet from the get-go. Agree on what devices they can use, when, and how long they can spend online. As they get older, explaining and negotiating boundaries may be more effective.
  6. Take 'parental' control: These ready-made boundaries put parents in control of what children can see online. They can be set up through your internet provider at device level to block specific websites and filter out inappropriate content.
  7. Be social media savvy:  The popularity of social media apps like TikTok and Snapchat makes it harder to keep track of what your child is accessing online.  Fortunately, each social media platform has its own privacy settings and safety tips for parents. Check them out before you let children have their own accounts.
  8. Protect from harm:Install antivirus software on family devices to minimise the risk of cyber attacks or scams. Use two-factor authentication (2FA) for extra security on your online accounts. This can also stop children from signing into services they're not allowed to use.
  9. Set a great example:  You're the greatest 'influencer' in your children's lives when they're young.  Limiting your time online, discussing dangers you've come across, and questioning what you view can help reinforce the rules you are setting for your children and, in turn, influence their online behaviour.
  10. Seek support:The more you learn about online dangers, the better equipped you'll be to handle them. There are some great resources like  webwise.ieinternetmatters.organd to help you recognise and reduce online dangers and seek advice if you think your child is experiencing cyberbullying or is at risk online.
        Short videos on the Importance of Play have recently launched which was a collaboration between North Central CFSN and Lifestart Services.   Volume 1 Volume 2 Volume 3 Volume 4 Volume 5 Volume 6

Infant Mental Health Awareness Week runs from June 13th-19th.           

This week provides an opportunity to focus attention on the wellbeing, social and emotional development of our babies and young children. It highlights the importance of early relationships and a relationship based approach to interventions with infants and families. As our understanding of IMH and its evidence base develops, so also does our knowledge of how to apply this knowledge and an ‘IMH lens’ to interactions with infants, parents and caregivers in health and social services. 

What is infant mental health?

Infant Mental health (IMH) refers to the healthy social and emotional development of Infants starting at conception up to three years of age.

The first 1000 days of life are recognised as a critical period of opportunity to support infant mental health. Decades of research have shown that it is the quality of the early caregiver relationship that is a significant determinant of the infant’s healthy social and emotional development and in turn physical health, right up to adulthood.


The National Healthy Childhood Programme has embedded IMH as the foundation of the development of its resources and in the approach of the delivery of the universal child health service. This embedding of key messages can be seen in the My Child suite of books ( and also on  where key messages around bonding and relationship building have been embedded for the parent/caregiver.


In clinical practice the topic of IMH has been included for the first time in the National Standardised Child Health Record. To build on this, the National Healthy Childhood Programme have just completed a suite of three eLearning units which are now available on HSEland for healthcare practitioners / caregivers who are working with children and families.  


Throughout the week you will see videos and key IMH messaging being promoted on the HSE MyChild social media pages ( Facebook / Instagram ). Keep an eye out in the National Newspapers for articles from our experts also. (IrishTimes article)  


In addition The National Healthy Childhood Programme have developed a series of ten practical videos with HSE expert advice which are now available on YouTube and on the relevant pages on the website.

These videos (2-3 minutes each) are aimed at parents/guardians of children (0 – 3 years).

These new video resources are available here while lots more expert advice for every step of pregnancy, baby and toddler health can also be found at

There are a suite of posters available focusing on the promotion of IMH messaging to order from

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