The composition of Human milk

Today I collected a drawing from a framers in Bristol. A 7 by 9 foot charcoal and watercolour piece detailing all the currently known components of human milk, and explaining some of them.

It started when a friend suggested I get involved in helping with the organisation of an event running tomorrow, May 7th, at the Bristol Food Connections Festival 2015. The event is called Breastmilk – our perfect first food, and the drawing will be exhibited there.

I found it so exciting that a food festival would think to include an event about human milk being a food worthy of the same kind of attention as a classic Michel Roux Jr recipe.

Human milk does things that are not common knowledge, and it’s become my passion to share the information I’ve been unearthing over the last 2 years since having our son.

The contents and workings of our milk shouldn’t be news, because it’s Phenomenal. It does things that make me think I’m in a chemistry class in Hogwarts. It took a lot or searching to find all the details, and then it took a lactation consultant and a 4th year medical student to translate them for me.

And that’s why I stuck a ridiculously large piece of paper that kept falling down over my head to the wall and got drawing. To try to begin to make the information common knowledge and in doing so to encourage more research to be done.

There is much, MUCH more than the following, but a taste of what I’m on about it is this…

Vitamins and minerals that we all know are present only represent a very small proportion of what’s in our milk. There is a huge range of other components. Components, for instance, that dispose of harmful bacteria in different ways. By absorbing them, engulfing them, destroying them, lining the gut and preventing them from entering our baby’s blood stream, preventing them from using our baby’s iron stores to grow (pathogens need iron to thrive), etc…

And these are targeted responses to specific pathogens, because our baby’s saliva goes into our blood stream and informs us of anything harmful they have been exposed to in the last few hours. Our body immediately produces the exact antibodies for that specific infection, and feeds it back to our babies via our milk.

There is a component known to kill cancerous cells. There are components that reduce inflammation, and others that are painkillers. There are stem cells, cells that are being used in medical research to cure conditions like Alzheimers. There are hormones, and one that induces relaxation and a feeling of love in the baby and the mother. This is the same hormone, oxytocin, that is released in our system when someone we love gives us a long hug, holds our hand, tells us how beautiful we are… On and on, and there is a lot more to find out in future research.

And while we’re on the subject of food, our milk takes on the flavours of the foods we eat, so our babies get a feast for their taste buds at every feed too.

You can see the full list of components here https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=1630635223840518&id=1629032210667486&__mref=message_bubble

I’m not a scientist, (and I’m not a painter!), I’m a mother who got curious. I have soooo much more to learn. But it’s too damn exciting and I want to start sharing this over and over.

You know what I think would help women feel beautiful, worthy, confident? Not clothes, not make-up, not a sexy date, and sod creams that promise to keep us looking young. Simply knowing ourselves. Because we are phenomenal. We are phenomenal in our sleep, we are phenomenal before we even try to be anything. And to know stuff we just have to get curious.
So lets do this Ladies, lets get wildly curious…

Claire Tchaikowski.

Thank you to Dominique Sakoilsky of Relaxed Birth and Parenting for blowing my mind on the topic of birthing and womanhood generally, and starting this whole thing off, to Emma Pickett IBCLC and James Walmsley who collated and translated the contents of human milk with me, to Eva Fernandes of Born in Bristol for overseeing the Food Connections event organisation and being unshakeably encouraging, and to Michel Roux Jr for being completely delicious and sharing his passion so beautifully with us.

PRINTS ARE NOW AVAILABLE…!

If prints of this drawing can contribute to making a difference to how women (and men) view breastfeeding and their own powerful capabilities, then I am one happy lady.

If you would like a print of the drawing, please choose a size below and place your order. Scroll down below the UK selection if you are ordering from anywhere in the world outside our little UK island. Thank you! The parcels will be dispatched unframed by recorded delivery from Niche Frames in Bristol.

If you are a charity, please email hello@clairetchaikowski.com for a discounted rate.

A full size (200cm by 272cm) print is available, printed on vinyl with a dibond hard back. If you would like to look into this, please email hello@clairetchaikowski.com. Thank you!

FOR ORDERS WITHIN THE UK:

A2 print on poster paper, £12.95 plus p&p
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A2 on Innova Fine Art paper, £32 plus p&p
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Please note that the writing in A2 format is quite small.

A1 on Innova Fine Art paper, £54 plus p&p
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A0 on Innova Fine Art paper, £120 plus p&p
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150cm by 240cm on Innova Fine Art paper, £340 plus p&p
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FOR ORDERS FROM THE REST OF THE WORLD:

A2 on poster paper, £12.95 plus p&p
Buy Now Button

A2 on Innova Fine Art paper, £32 plus p&p
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A1 on Innova Fine Art paper, £54 plus p&p
Buy Now Button

A0 on Innova Fine Art paper, £120 plus p&p
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150cm by 240cm on Innova Fine Art paper, £340 plus p&p
Buy Now Button

Please be aware that very annoyingly Paypal will not open a new window to take your transaction. If you want to return to the blog after it’s complete, press the backwards arrow!

73 thoughts on “The composition of Human milk

      1. Dear Clare,

        I’m very interested in buying a print too! Let me know when they are ready. I’ve just started a blog for lactation professionals and those aspiring to be entitled http://www.galactablog.com. I’d love to put your recent post, “The Composition of Human Milk” on my blog – if you’d like to do it as a guest post and then link back to your blog…I’m open and flexible. I’m just awestruck at this portrait and want to share and promote it as much as possible and I know my Galactablog followers will love it to. Let me know what you think!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hi Tamara, by all means share away, thank you! If you’d like me to contribute in some other way then I’m happy to do what I can, you have a great blog, so useful. The prints are now available, I’ve added paypal options at the bottom of the blog and I hope they work!! Thanks very much for you fab feedback, I’m so moved the whole thing! Love, Claire

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Hi Jenny, I’ll talk to the printers tomorrow and see what makes sense. I’m new to this! Meanwhile, I’ll set up a facebook page so we can communicate more easily. A lot of you live abroad, America, Australia and Ireland being the biggest communities, and it could be amazing to connect anyone who would like to meet and talk freely.

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  1. Hi Claire, what you have produced is amazing and I congratulate you. This should be a resource in schools all over the world. I would love a copy. I always used to say I could stand on a table and talk for 24 hours about how amazing and wonderful human milk is and I still wouldn’t have covered it all.Louise Harrison IBCLC (retired) and Mothercraft/Breastfeeding educator.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Louise, thank you for your wonderful comment. You’re right! Print options have been added at the bottom of the blog now if you would like to order one. Thank you so much for your interest, Cx

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    1. Chris, I’ll only charge you what the printers charge me so it’s cheaper for the milk bank. I’m going to do that for all charities and milk banks. I have your email, I’ll email you if that’s ok. Claire x

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  2. Fabulous, brilliant, imaginative, scientific, beautiful work! I would also like a copy! Please keep me posted !

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  3. That is an amazing piece of work. I am a health visitor and Ibclc in training and would love to have a print please

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  4. I would very much like a large print of this and a couple of smaller prints to give as gifts. I would very
    Much appreciate if you could let me know when it’s available for purchase. Thanks a million!

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    1. Will do! I’m hoping to get the shop online tonight, I’ve been paddling as fast as I can (after our 2 year old’s bedtime 🙂 )to learn how to create the links and include different sizes etc. Thank you for so much support! Claire x

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Hi! Different size options have been added for purchase below the blog now. The smallest we can print that will still be legible is A2. At that size we have a cheaper poster print quality paper and a thicker quality which is better for framing. The bigger sizes are all on the thick paper. Lush 🙂 Thank you for your interest! Claire

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    1. Hi Stephanie. Someone asked that about Ireland too. The truth is that I don’t yet know what the international shipping costs are, this has all happened very fast, and the paypal setup is quite rudimentary! I will know more tomorrow and will let you know what shipping would cost and also talk to the printers about them getting me jpg files for the various sizes and see what makes most sense? What size are you thinking? Thanks! Claire

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    2. Hi again Stephanie. I looked into international shipping today and oddly, it is only a fraction more than shipping within the UK, £5.35 more to be exact. So with this in mind as well as copyright issues with sending out a digital copy, I’ve set up a section above to order prints from outside the UK. I hope this is ok for you. Claire

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    1. Hi Kirstin, thank you!! As I just said to Stephanie above, I looked into international shipping today and oddly, it is only a fraction more than shipping within the UK, £5.35 more to be exact. So with this in mind as well as copyright issues with sending out a digital copy, I’ve set up a section above to order prints from outside the UK. I hope this is ok for you. Claire x

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  5. Hi Claire, Any chance of buying without being sent? Niche Frames is just down the road from me! Also I asked to buy a poster print and when it took me through to paypal it said p&p is £7.25 within the UK, but above you’ve said £5.35 for outside the UK that can’t be right can it?

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    1. Hi Lorraine! Yes you’re very welcome to pick up the print from Niche! The comment mentioning £5.35 was that it only costs £5.35 more to ship outside the UK than it does within the UK. It’s £12.60 for abroad, and only a few pence difference between Europe and the rest of the world so I’ve grouped them together. Once I your order details come through via paypal I’ll email you a confirmation. The prints will be ready for shipping on Thursday, so I’ll get them to keep yours there. Thanks! Claire x

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  6. Glad I stumbled upon this on twitter from @heartmummy. I’d definitely like to see a bigger copy of this; and hopefully buy the A1 size sometime. Perhaps I’d recommend its purchase for my local hospital’s infant feeding room, next time I’m at my local MSLC meeting. Also, I’ll be sure to include it in my breastfeeding posts next week, for my new #BreastfeedingandI project. Good job! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Currently in St Michaels in Bristol for the birth of our daughter Daisy, I saw this amazing drawing in the day room and was blown away, as was my 14 year old son! He immediately started taking pictures to use in the future at school.

    I’ve gone one better, and ordered the print within 5 mins for him to reference in the future for school, it is amazing – thank you so much.

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    1. Congratulations Lee and welcome Daisy! Thank you for your wonderful comment. I got your order, I’ll email you and I’m happy to chat with your son if he has any thoughts or questions. Enjoy the arrival of your beautiful daughter, I hope you’re both well x

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