The food system that has come about exists only to feed us. Is this what you imagined it would look like?
Let's take a moment to marvel at this miraculous process.
Let me start by saying I don't care whether you breastfeed or not. Everyone's circumstances are different, no one needs to explain why they did or didn't breastfeed their babies and we'd all be better off with far fewer judgments across the baby-feeding spectrum.
With that disclaimer out of the way, can we at least all agree that breastfeeding is freaking awesome?
I mean, the whole biological process of growing an entire human practically from scratch is mind-blowing all by itself. But the fact that our bodies then create food to feed that human, with a whole system for how and when that food gets made and released, is just so cool.
A CGI video depicting the process in a simple, clear way has people marveling at how it all works. The video gives an internal view of what's happening below the skin's surface as a baby latches on. (The depiction of the latch isn't great, FYI—a proper latch is an important part of breastfeeding working as it should, but what comes after is the cool part.)
We could get into some nitty gritty anatomical terms here, but the high-level explanation of what's happening is that when a baby suckles, a signal is sent to the mother's brain. That signal prompts the release of the hormones prolactin (which stimulates milk production in the alveoli—the grape-like clusters in the video) and oxytocin (which stimulates the muscles around the alveoli to push the milk into the milk ducts—the white tubes).
It's a basic but beautiful biological process, the way the baby, brain and breast communicate and coordinate to make and deliver milk on demand.
But that's just the mechanics. There's so much about breastfeeding that's scientific but feels like magic.
For instance, the flavor of breastmilk changes depending on what the person breastfeeding eats, which means baby gets to experience a range of taste sensations starting very early. That may not seem particularly consequential, but studies have found that children who breastfeed tend to be less picky and more willing to try different foods later on.
It can also change color, ranging from blue to green to yellow to pink. Neat, huh?
Breastmilk also changes to meet a child's nutritional needs as they get older. If you watch the last eight seconds or so of the video, you can see the flow of milk stop and then see a reverse flow coming from the baby's mouth. That's the baby's saliva, which contains chemicals that react with the mother's body to adjust the makeup of the breastmilk to meet the baby's needs at any given stage. So cool.
That same saliva exchange can also prompt the mother's body to add germ-fighting elements (leucocytes, antibodies, etc.) to her breastmilk that help fight infections. Such immune boosting can happen when either baby or mom are sick, providing an immune boost for baby.
We may not think of it this way, but breastmilk is actually a living substance containing live cells. And there's still so much we're learning about what it can do, not just for babies but for non-nutritional medicinal purposes as well.
So often, the wonder of it all gets lost in the debates and judgments that surround breastfeeding. Not everyone can breastfeed and there are a million challenges that can get in the way of it feeling like a magical experience, even for those who do it. But that doesn't change the fact that breastfeeding is a miraculous process when it works.
Let's just take a minute to appreciate the incredible way breasts can manufacture and deliver baby food, always at the perfect temperature, through a process that continually individualizes that food to make it ideal at every stage. Our bodies are simply amazing.
A dozen important signs you don't want to miss.
How easily these two words slip from our mouths, often when nothing could be further from the truth. Sometimes, it feels safer to hide our true feelings, lest someone make a judgment or have a negative reaction. Other times, it’s a social rule instilled in childhood, perhaps even through punishment. Or maybe denying is the only way to combat overwhelm—if we ignore it all long enough, things will eventually get better anyway.
At the end of the day … it’s all about avoiding further pain, isn’t it?
To quote Emily Roberts, M.A., LPC. a psychotherapist, in her article for Mind Body Green, "Deciding to bury your feelings, ignoring them, internalizing them, pretending they didn’t happen, or convincing yourself that there is no need to deal with them can literally make you sick from the stress.”
It also makes it harder for others to help, if they don’t know what’s really going on. Fortunately, mental health continues to be a topic of interest, and open conversations about red flags help to raise awareness and help people better understand one another.
On a recent Ask Reddit thread, people shared their own indirect “cries for help” they’ve either witnessed, or made themselves. Their stories were eye-opening. It’s true that some are better at hiding their struggles than others, but even those individuals often give off subtle warning signs.
You can read them below.
“Anger and irritability can be a symptom of depression. It’s harder to empathize with someone who’s having angry outbursts, but it’s still important to recognize.” – @celolex
“Some people become very quiet and docile, like if they've resigned themselves to the minimum.” – @methyltheobromine_
“Purposely avoiding sad and difficult topics. Sometimes when a person is constantly feeling like shit the last thing they want to do is bring up more negativity when hanging out with people they enjoy being around.” – @sunnyrubberboots
“Marked differences in behavior where the person becomes way more positive and energetic than normal. We tend to think of these sorts of changes as being good, but any sudden and large enough change in behavior is something you need to keep an eye on. This is especially true if they are going from a very negative pattern of thinking/behavior into an uber-positive one very quickly. Usually, those ‘now I feel like I can conquer the world’ changes are the precursor to suicide attempts and the like.” – [deleted]
“I had a girlfriend who occasionally suffered extreme bouts of depression. She’d be high energy then suddenly she would try to sleep as much as possible. She said “it just doesn’t hurt as much when you’re asleep.” Any time I hear anyone sleeping A LOT I know they are having a very difficult time and just try to be there for them.” – @CharlieTuna_
“When they start cutting off contact. That outgoing, happy person suddenly ‘just isn't up to it,’ or [saying] ‘maybe some other time,’ then something is wrong.” – @driving_andflying
“Anhedonia. Losing interest in things a person usually found to be a source of enjoyment. Depression is a very insidious illness and a very isolating one. Sometimes it can be hard to spot, because people are very conditioned to hide it.” – @kutuup1989
“One of the things I used to say when I was suicidal was, ‘I’d never just walk in front of an 18-wheeler, but I wouldn’t get out of the way, either.’ I wanted to die but didn’t want to be the one to do it because I knew that while an accident would absolutely crush my loved ones, me pulling the trigger would likely cause a chain reaction. It’s just a sort of numb acceptance. You wait and sort of hope an opportunity arises. I’m doing better now. But yeah. Second hand suicide is real.” – @starkrocket
“A reduction in food consumption. I’ve found when I’ve fallen down the hole and I just stop caring anymore I don’t eat anywhere near as much as I normally do. Instead of having the standard 3-4 meal things a day I’ll be lucky to convince myself to have 2 as I simply don’t care anymore.” – @funland8642
“It may seem a bit obvious, but when someone says that they don’t see themselves living past a certain age, or acting surprised that they made it to a certain milestone in their lives.” – @nickgio19
“When someone has obviously been crying or tears up without apparent provocation, even in a very public setting, it can be a sign that they're in too much pain even to try masking it. I've also heard of severely depressed people who abruptly 'snap out of it,' and go perky, and that can be indicative of a person who was agonizing over whether to end things, who has now decided to do so. Making that decision, sadly, gives them peace and relief.” – @FlourChild1026
“Giving a lot of personal possessions away without wanting anything in return.” – [deleted]
If you or someone you know are having thoughts of suicide or require mental health support, call or text 988 to talk to a trained counselor at the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, or visit 988lifeline.org to connect with a counselor and chat in real time. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress as well as prevention and crisis resources for healthcare professionals.
Holy moly that voice.
When Michael Jackson died 13 years ago, the pop music world lost a legend. However markedly mysterious and controversial his personal life was, his contributions to music will go down in history as some of the most influential of all time.
Part of what made him such a beloved singer was the uniqueness of his voice. From the time he was a young child singing lead for The Jackson 5, his high-pitched vocals stood out. Hearing him sing live was impressive, his pitch-perfect performances always entertaining.
No one could ever really be compared to MJ, or so we thought. Out of the blue, a guy showed up on TikTok recently with a casual performance that sounds so much like the King of Pop it's blowing people away.
Brandon Conway posted his first TikTok video ever on July 24, and in less than three weeks it's been viewed more than 27 million times. It's just him standing in a parking lot snapping his fingers and singing "The Way You Make Me Feel," but when he opens his mouth, whoa.
As he keeps going, it gets even more whoa. Then he hits Jackson's signature "he he" and the whoa turns into what?!?
Take a listen:
First post on tiktok let me know what you guys think! More videos coming soon feom mj to country to rock so yall be sure to stay tuned!#fyp #singer #usherchallenge @usher @tpain #letsgo #firstvideo
Uncanny, right? If you need a reminder of how Jackson himself sounded when he sang it, here's a live performance from Auckland during his 1996 world tour.
Very impressive. You can follow Brandon Conway on TikTok to hear more from him.