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The Placenta and Breastmilk-Unraveling the Mysterious World of the Intelligent Organs that Protect our Babies

by Laurel A. Wilson, IBCLC, BSc, CLE, CLD, CCCE, CLSP
  • Duration: 60 Mins
  • Credits: 1 CERP, 1 L-CERP
  • Handout: Yes

It is an amazing feat that the female human can grow and nourish another human body. The two main organs that support this incredible venture are the placenta and breastmilk. There are some research theories that suggest that the maternal link between baby and mother created by the placenta is continued beyond pregnancy through the next vital maternal/baby organ, breastmilk. These two unique organs have many similar properties. They take cues from the maternal environment to change nutrition, hormones, and other developmental and immunological properties that are being sent to the baby. The placenta and breastmilk deliver properties to the baby solely based on its needs and changing environment. The role of both organs is to protect, defend, and support the development of the child. Each organ is perceptive and continuously fine tunes the delivery of essential molecules to the baby. They are intelligent organs, deciphering the environment and using that information to the benefit of the child. The placenta detects the mother’s emotions, nutritional state, and state of anxiety and sends messenger molecules and hormones to the baby to aide the baby’s development in a way that allows it to thrive in its future home outside the womb. Breastmilk has similar capabilities, using GALT and MALT and SIgA to help the baby’s brain, body, and immune system function in its unique world. This presentation takes you on a journey inside these organs to give you a profound lesson in the physical ties between mother and baby.

Learning Objectives:

Objective 1: Students will list two properties that the placenta delivers to the baby based on a changing environment.
Objective 2: Students will identify two ways the placenta and breastmilk have similar properties in terms of support the link between mother and baby.
Objective 3: Students will be able to identify at least one way in which breastmilk takes cues from maternal environment to customize the ingredients of breastmilk to the baby.