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  • Erin Elise

Birth and Cell Swapping

I'm sitting here writing this as I watch the snow fall, in Seattle that doesn't happen often. My kids are excited and I'm dreading it because schools get shut down and life stops when things freeze around here!

When my kids were younger, I used to loathe the fact that they would come straight to me for help. My husband and I could be sitting in the same room, there were times I remember them walking right past him just so they could get to me. I’m a very independent person, breastfeeding was tough not only for the challenges it presents in and of itself, but I struggled with knowing that the pressure was all on me. Their very lives depended on needing me (ONLY ME!!) for their survival. So, as the dependence on ONLY ME continued again I struggled with meeting their needs and filling my own need to have some mental downtime and a sense of feeling like a completely healthy person. Bottle feeding helped a TON, and I'm so thankful that we live in a time when we have formula for our little ones.

As a self-proclaimed birth nerd, it has become more and more interesting to me to understand exactly why our children are so connected to us. I have spent so many hours learning about birth, and as a photographer which angles, lighting and camera settings are best to capture the most amazing moments during labor and post birth. As I researched the connection between moms and babies, I found an incredible article from Scientific America that brings some interesting insight into the mother child bond. It said that “microchimerism most commonly results from the exchange of cells across the placenta during pregnancy, however there is also evidence that cells may be transferred from mother to infant through nursing. In addition to exchange between mother and fetus, there may be exchange of cells between twins in utero, and there is also the possibility that cells from an older sibling residing in the mother may find their way back across the placenta to a younger sibling during the latter’s gestation. Women may have microchimeric cells both from their mother as well as from their own pregnancies, and there is even evidence for competition between cells from grandmother and infant within the mother.”

I was well aware that oxytocin is pumped out by our bodies during birth, as we labor and breastfeed giving us that “loving high”, and that we share everything through the placenta with our babies before they are born. However, michrochimerism is fascinating because not only are we transferring everything to baby, but there is an exchange of cells from baby to mom as well. Later in the article it went on to talk about a study that found that animal mothers had cells from their offspring that were able to repair different types of tissue throughout their bodies. Incredible!!

As my kids have grown, my baby is now 11, I have become more at ease with their dependence on me. I have come to terms with knowing that I can and will help them until they can help themselves. I’m hoping that happens sooner than later. Until then I am content to be the one who helps them find the cute sweater that’s obviously laying in the middle of their bedroom floor, or the chips they want to snack on that are sitting on the shelf right in front of their cute little face as they stand in the pantry… starring at everything else. Gotta love it, am I right moms?!

When it comes down to it I will literally

live on in them as they live on in me, it’s a pretty incredible thing to think about!

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Seattle Washington Birth Photographer
erin@erinelisephotography.com | 425.463.8554
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