Breast milk has benefits beyond feeding the baby, explains Anna Thachuk, MD. Burning calories is one surprising benefit, as is the empowerment of women. Breastmilk jewelry has significant uses, says Anna, the founder, designer, and President of KeepsakeMom.
Disclosure: This sponsored interview with KeepsakeMom founder Anna Thachuk highlights the power of breast milk, which is especially important for new moms seeking a healthier, happier year ahead.
Anna Thachuk, MD, on breast milk benefits
Anna Thachuk, MD, is a sonographer, breastmilk jewelry designer, and founder of KeepsakeMom Breastmilk Jewelry. She speaks with me about the surprising benefits of breast milk other than feeding your newborn, from long-term effects on weight to giving women power. Let’s get to the interview!
Hi Anna, to start, please share a bit about your medical background
In 2004, I graduated from medical school and emigrated from Ukraine. With my interest in medicine, along with my medical and health sciences background, I became a diagnostic medical sonographer working in ultrasound. My favorite part of the job was looking at the images and sharing in the excitement of the expectant mothers.
Seasoned mothers would talk about sibling interactions and breastfeeding challenges, while first-time moms wondered what their new lives would be like. Hearing their stories, I couldn’t wait to have children of my own and experience it all firsthand.
New moms who breastfeed might be surprised by the effects on body weight. Can you explain?
One of the most surprising things I learned about breastfeeding is that it burns 500 calories daily. I also found it reassuring to know that breastfeeding can help your body recoup from the stress of pregnancy and childbirth.
Many reports say breastfeeding women lose weight more quickly because of this, but I’m not sure that’s true. There’s so much that comes into play when you breastfeed, so many things to consider and balance. I take it one day at a time and focus on how unique this experience is for my family.
How can the length and frequency of breastfeeding affect the amount of weight loss?
The information regarding this is all over the board. However, there is a common theme that the most significant weight loss occurs after the first three months of breastfeeding, and women who breastfed longer than 12 months lost more weight than women who only breastfed for three months.
Some sources suggest that the frequency of breastfeeding can also come into play and is beneficial for losing weight. These studies also point out that each mother’s journey is affected by so many factors. It’s essential to be gentle with yourself regarding postpartum weight loss.
Is it a good idea to count calories as a new mom thinking about breast milk benefits, in your opinion?
There are so many things to consider with a newborn. I struggled with whether to count calories, not wanting to make things more complicated for myself. Here’s what I decided; because this was a new experience for my baby and me, it was important that I knew I was providing the best nutrient-rich breast milk possible, so when I began, I tracked calories.
Since I was already being careful about planning a healthy diet, it was easy enough to figure out calories. After a while, I felt I had a good handle on how much I needed to intake, and I eventually skipped calorie counting.
After recently giving birth, what do you think is realistic for women when it comes to being healthy?
There’s no reason not to ease back into doing everything you did before becoming pregnant. Reclaiming what you enjoyed and how you cared for yourself before your baby arrived will help you balance the challenges of motherhood.
I think it’s important to listen to your body and resist the urge to “bounce back” quickly. Take your time getting back into the swing of things, prioritize your health and well-being, set realistic goals, live actively, and enjoy this extraordinary experience.
Well said! Returning to breastfeeding and its benefits, breast milk jewelry is what, exactly?
Breastmilk jewelry is a special keepsake for your wonderful newborn, embodying the effort and dedication that moms put into breastfeeding. The jewelry is made with stones created from a mother’s breast milk.
People love it because It’s the most personalized piece of jewelry you can imagine—since every mother’s milk is different, every piece of jewelry we make is completely unique. We create rings, necklaces, earrings, and bracelets, and each piece is a memento of the amazing connection a mother forms with her child. It’s a beautiful keepsake of such a special time, and it also makes a wonderful gift.
How did you get into designing breastmilk jewelry, Anna Thachuk?
Growing up, I was always interested in beads and sparkly things and remember spending hours playing with my mother’s costume jewelry. This fascination with all things sparkly never left me, and I went from playing with jewelry as a child to making jewelry for myself to wear as an adult.
When I was breastfeeding our second child, I was introduced to breastmilk jewelry. A lady was adding breast milk to acrylic resin, creating breastmilk stones, and she had been doing this for over 10 years. I was fascinated by this.
I started playing with my milk, reducing it, trying different techniques to neutralize it, and mixing and casting the dried milk with acrylic resin to create breastmilk stones. That was the beginning and yes, it did help me to commemorate my journeys, all three of them, each of which was deeply profound but each with its own set of struggles.
How can this keepsake empower women?
It celebrates feeding mothers, helping to capture this incredibly rewarding time in every breastfeeding mother’s journey. I may be a tiny bit biased here, but I can’t help but feel that each piece of breast milk jewelry really is the perfect combination of beauty and meaning, reflecting every mother’s deeply personal experience through a universal symbol of love and connection.
And because breastfeeding is such a personal journey, it deserves to be commemorated with a keepsake that’s just as beautiful and unique. It’s truly a celebration.
Are there other breast milk benefits too?
It can help with healing. We hear many stories and serve those mothers whose children were with them for only a short amount of time. It’s heartbreaking, but we feel privileged to hear their stories and to participate with them in their healing, to give them that precious memento of a lost life.
Thank you for the role you’re playing in that healing process. And thank you for being here, Anna Thachuk.
KeepsakeMom is continually developing and adding to its pages, so they encourage readers to check back regularly.
Top photo: Meet Anna Thachuk, KeepsakeMom founder and President. Used with Anna’s permission.