The Long-Term Legacy: Human Milk Feeding, Attachment, the Epigenome and Microbiome
Recent research on epigenetics, literally meaning above the gene, has led medical professionals to query about how the environment impacts the developing baby both in utero and throughout its lifetime. The genome is the genetic information inherited from one’s parents, but the epigenome is what deciphers the genome for each cell throughout the body. This deciphering process is impacted by both the internal and external environment of an individual. The external environment can include nutrition, chemicals, toxins, etc. The internal environment would include neuropeptides (emotional molecules) and stress hormones. The environment changes the proteins in the body that help the epigenome translate DNA. This finding has increased awareness of the importance of nutrition on the epigenome. Studies now are finding that the changes in the epigenome can influence not only that individual but can be passed along to future progeny, sometimes four generations out. The first nutrition for a human outside the womb is breastmilk, and thus its epigenetic impact is potentially expansive. New research has expanded the field of epigenetics to include breastmilk and how it potentially changes the epigenome and can affect the lifelong health of a baby. Researchers are now also starting to understand how human milk both seeds and feeds the development of the microbiome in the newborn gut. The human gut microbiome plays an important role in the meditation of the epigenome, release of hormones, interaction with the brain, and supporting the health of many organ systems in the body. This presentation focuses on some of the latest published research – the epigenome, the microbiome, attachment, stress during pregnancy, and changes in gene expression and gut flora.
Laurel Wilson, IBCLC
Laurel has her degree in Maternal and Child Health – Lactation Consulting. With over twenty-eight years of experience working with women in the childbearing year and perinatal professionals, Laurel takes a creative approach to working with the pregnant family and perinatal professionals. She is co-author of best-selling books, The Greatest Pregnancy Ever: The Keys to the MotherBaby Bond and The Attachment Pregnancy: The Ultimate Guide to Bonding with Your Baby. She is also a contributing author to Round the Circle: Experienced Doulas Share What They Learned the Hard Way and original editor of the CAPPA Lactation Educator Manual. She currently travels the world presenting on such hot topics as Social Media and the Pregnant Family, Epigenetics and the Microbiome and First Foods, and Cannabis and Perinatal Health.
Laurel is a board certified as a lactation consultant, childbirth educator, labor doula, lactation educator™, Prenatal ParentingTM Instructor, and Pre and Postpartum fitness educator. She served as the CAPPA Executive Director of Lactation Programs for 17 years and is now on the Senior Advisory Board. She served on the board for the United State Breastfeeding Committee from 2016-2019 and currently serves on InJoy Health’s Review Board and Kindred World’s Board. She also is a board member at large for the Colorado Breastfeeding Coalition. Currently, Laurel is also acting as Education Manager for GOLD Learning.
Laurel is a lactation and perinatal health speaker, sharing her knowledge at professional conferences around the world on subjects ranging from hot topics in breastfeeding to epigenetics and the prenatal environment. She has trained hundreds of professionals in the 20 Hour Lactation Educator™ Course for CAPPA and lectured thousands of health professionals in maternal child health topics. Additionally, she taught perinatal classes to families in private and hospital settings and coordinated hospital education programs. Laurel has created teaching strategies that facilitate better understanding of the change processes during the childbearing year. Laurel has been joyfully married to her husband for 30 years and has two amazing sons, whose difficult births led her on a path towards helping emerging families create positive experiences. She believes that the journey towards and into parenthood is a life changing rite of passage that should be deeply honored and celebrated.
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