Mommy’s Milk (human breastmilk)

Hello again, I finally buckled down to take a look at something I’ve wanted to do for a while now.   Can you guess what this is?  Human breastmilk!

I used the two-well slide and spread it out to a very thin film of liquid.  All the while my 19 month old toddler was literally climbing on my back and/or playing with the accessories kit items.  I had some really significant challenges focusing and operating the camera phone – I could see these structures so much clearer by eye.  And they moved around!

Fresh mommy’s milk, mounted in microwell

I also tried using the microwell slide which created a thicker layer of liquid.  It was successful but with so many more globules the individual structures aren’t as dramatic.

What I really wanted to do was compare fresh milk with frozen then thawed milk.  But the toddler was uninterested in the many steps it would require me to prepare this comparison.

I went to clean up – wash off the conveniently reusable slide and covers – and make myself some tea.  Mommy making tea is -super- boring, and the toddler wandered off to get a head start pulling out the toy bins and dumping them on the floor.  Since I had the cow’s milk out for the tea and newly cleaned slides…

Cow’s milk, homogenized and pasteurized. The bubble in the middle of the image is an air bubble – I captured it to prove I was focused.

With store bought, homogenized and pasteurized cow’s milk there was nothing to see (at 140X).  I’m guessing that it’s the homogenizing and pasteurizing process that made such a big difference between the samples as opposed to the species of origin.

I don’t actually know what those little spherical structures are in the breastmilk and I haven’t had a chance to really research it.  I’m thinking it might be fats – the cow’s milk sample doesn’t separate.   I could test this theory by allowing the breastmilk to separate before imaging.  And I’m still interested in what thawed frozen milk will look like.  If you have access to fresh cow or goat milk – can you take a look for me?

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Manu Prakash says:

    Fantastic post @amy. I can only imagine doing microscope while a kid is climbing on your back; oh wait – I actually can imagine that since my kids are the same 🙂

    Really interesting observation. The regular milk should also have fat globules (which really makes milk white once they scatter light).
    Here is a post on regular milk:

    More to follow up soon.


  2. Manu Prakash says:

    Also, evidence exists that live Brest milk also has cells.


  3. laksiyer says:

    I suggest you dilute the milk a bit., although this one is fantastic as you can use fat globules of multiple sizes. I would just take a pin full of milk in a drop of water. (

  4. laksiyer says:

    Use=See, sorry( auto-correct can be painful).

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