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Whether you breastfeed or not (because fed is definitely best), there's no denying that breast milk is just cool. It's basically the closest humans can come to producing a magic potion. It changes depending on the baby's needs, it helps fight allergies, beats back disease and promotes immune response. Even those of us who struggled to breastfeed can appreciate its punk-rock powers. In a word, breast milk is metal.

Breast milk is the human body's antibody-carrying magic potion and it is under intense study right now because it could help in the fight against coronavirus.

One reason breast milk is so powerful is that it carries antibodies that help babies fight off disease. Antibodies (for those of us who did not ace high school biology) are an important part of the human body's immune response system. When a virus, bacteria or other threat attacks the body, our blood cells produce antibodies to fight the infection. These antibodies also promote immunity to that virus in the short term.

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And antibodies might just be the next battlefront in our returning to normal after the COVID-19 epidemic. Researchers are now working to produce a coronavirus antibody test to help people determine whether they might be protected from further infection. "There may be many people out there, and I suspect there are a fair amount, who have been infected, were asymptomatic, and didn't know it," Anthony Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during an interview on Today.


Rebecca Powell, a researcher at New York City's Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, is examining the presence of antibodies in the breast milk of women who have been exposed to coronavirus, as reported by Vice News. While much of the current antibody research is focused on antibodies in human blood, Powell is focused on the antibodies carried by human breast milk, which may have some biological advantages.

Her theory is that breastfeeding women in New York City, the pandemic's current global epicenter, might have developed antibodies in response to the virus, which their breast milk is now passing on to their children. Whether a woman has tested positive for the disease or not, if she's been exposed and is currently healthy, that means her body might have already swung into action creating antibodies. Those antibodies might then be passed into breast milk to help protect her infant against the disease.

Powell is urgently seeking breast milk donations to use in her research, and hundreds of women have answered her call, wanting to help do their part in the scientific fight against coronavirus. "I have hundreds of emails of people who want to participate, and many of them have said they had highly suspected infection or a positive test," Powell told Vice News.

"If we find that there's really potent antibodies in the milk, can those be used therapeutically in a way that Mt. Sinai and other hospitals are now using convalescent plasma—to treat those who are really ill?" Powell asked.

We already know that nursing women produce antibodies for other viruses such as the flu and that those are passed into breast milk for the infant's protection. It's exciting to think that women could be producing powerful antibodies for coronavirus in a similar way.

Is it any surprise that moms make magic? Nah. We're kinda metal like that.

When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.

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The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.



As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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As mamas we want our babies to be safe, and that's what makes what happened to Glee actress Naya Rivera and her 4-year-old son Josey so heartbreaking.

On July 13, the Ventura County Sheriff's Department announced the 33-year-old mother's body was found at Lake Piru, five days after her son was found floating alone on a rented boat. According to Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub, Rivera's last action was to save her son.

"We know from speaking with her son that he and Naya swam in the lake together at some point in her journey. It was at that time that her son described being helped into the boat by Naya, who boosted him onto the deck from behind. He told investigators that he looked back and saw her disappear under the surface of the water," Ayub explained, adding that Rivera's son was wearing his life vest, but the adult life vest was left on the unanchored boat.

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Ayub says exactly what caused the drowning is still speculation but investigators believe the boat started drifting and that Rivera "mustered enough energy to get her son back onto the boat but not enough to save herself."

Our hearts are breaking for Josey and his dad right now. So much is unknown about what happened on Lake Piru but one thing is crystal clear: Naya Rivera has always loved her son with all her heart.

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