What Breast Milk Looks Like Under A Microscope

by Eliza Castile

Did you ever think you'd spend the day entranced by a video of breast milk under a microscope? Neither did I, but look where we both wound up. On Jan. 7, artist and mother Jansen Howard posted a video on Facebook of a drop of breast milk as seen under a microscope, and it's gone viral in a big way: Less than a week later, the clip has been shared about 14,000 times and received more than 1.5 million views.

"You guys... this is SO COOL!!!!!!!! This is the living liquid gold we call breast milk in motion!!!!" wrote Howard in the original Facebook post. She went on to explain that her father is a blood microscopist, which is how she had access to the equipment, and described the milk as "alive." In an interview with the Huffington Post, she said that she got the idea from watching her mother, who has cancer, study her own white blood cells. Howard had recently read an article suggesting that breast milk adapts to a baby's needs, so she asked if she could take a look at her own breast milk.

The result, as you can see in the video below, is nothing short of fascinating.

Research has shown that breast milk does protect against illnesses in newborns, including infections and allergies; furthermore, when a baby or mother is sick, the number of white blood cells tends to spike. There's evidence that this works in part by the baby's backwash, for lack of a better word — while milk is flowing from the breast, the baby's saliva is moving in the opposite direction. It's possible that the mother's body adjusts to the baby's needs based on the content of the saliva.

Howard's video isn't the first time a post about breast milk has gone viral. Last year, a mother caught widespread attention for sharing a photo depicting two bags of breast milk; one changed color significantly after her baby fell ill.

Since Howard's video has gained momentum online, she's posted a follow-up comparing breast milk and baby formula.

Whether or not you're a mother, the takeaway is obvious: The human body is fascinating. If you're interested, you can check out Howard's art on Instagram.