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Breast milk


Breast milk

Two 25-milliliter samples of human breast milk. The lefthand sample is first milk produced and the righthand sample is milk produced later during the same pumping.

Breast milk is the milk produced by the breasts (or mammary glands) of a human female for her infant offspring. Milk is the primary source of nutrition for newborns before they are able to eat and digest other foods; older infants and toddlers may continue to be breastfed, either exclusively or in combination with other foods from around six months of age when solid foods may be introduced.


  • Benefits 1
  • Production 2
  • Composition 3
  • Storage of expressed breast milk 4
  • Comparison to other milks 5
  • Alternative uses for breast milk 6
  • Environmental pollutants 7
  • Extraordinary consumption 8
  • Market 9
  • See also 10
  • References 11
  • External links 12


The baby nursing from his or her own mother is the most common way of obtaining breast milk, but the milk can be pumped and then fed by baby bottle, cup and/or spoon, supplementation drip system, or nasogastric tube. Breast milk can be supplied by a woman other than the baby's mother, either via donated pumped milk (generally from a milk bank or via informal milk donation), or when a woman nurses a child other than her own at her breast, a practice known as wetnursing.


  • Drug Interactions with Human Milk
  • Human milk and lactation by Carol L. Wagner (Overview article, eMedicine, December 14, 2010)
  • United Nations University Centre - Constituents of human milk - including comparison of human and cow's milk ones
  • Children's Health Topics: Breastfeeding
  • Infant nutrition information from Seattle's Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center
  • Human Milk: What's the Difference?
  • A comparison between human milk and cow’s milk and The composition of cow’s milk
  • Meigs, EB (August 30, 1913) The comparative composition of human milk and of cow's milk, J.Biol.Chem 147-168

External links

  1. ^ "WHO | Exclusive breastfeeding". 2011-01-15. Retrieved 2011-10-26. 
  2. ^ "The World Health Organization's infant feeding recommendation". 
  3. ^ Hauck FR, Thompson JM, Tanabe KO, Moon RY, Vennemann MM (2011). "Breastfeeding and reduced risk of sudden infant death syndrome: A meta-analysis". Pediatrics 128 (1): 103–10.  
  4. ^ Breastfeeding Associated With Increased Intelligence, Study Suggests
  5. ^ Persico M, Podoshin L, Fradis M, Golan D, Wellisch G (1983). "Recurrent middle-ear infections in infants: The protective role of maternal breast feeding". Ear, nose, & throat journal 62 (6): 297–304.  
  6. ^ Cantey JB, Bascik SL, Heyne NG, Gonzalez JR, Jackson GL, Rogers VL, Sheffield JS, Treviño S, Sendelbach D, Wendel GD, Sánchez PJ (2012). "Prevention of Mother-to-Infant Transmission of Influenza during the Postpartum Period". American Journal of Perinatology 30 (3): 233–240.  
  7. ^ Aguiar H, Silva AI (2011). "Breastfeeding: The importance of intervening".  
  8. ^ Finigan V (2012). "Breastfeeding and diabetes: Part 2". The practising midwife 15 (11): 33–34, 36.  
  9. ^ a b Salone LR, Vann WF, Dee DL (2013). "Breastfeeding: An overview of oral and general health benefits". Journal of the American Dental Association (1939) 144 (2): 143–151.  
  10. ^ Lausten-Thomsen U, Bille DS, Nässlund I, Folskov L, Larsen T, Holm JC (2013). "Neonatal anthropometrics and correlation to childhood obesity—data from the Danish Children's Obesity Clinic". European Journal of Pediatrics 172 (6): 747–751.  
  11. ^ "Mental health, attachment and breastfeeding: implications for adopted children and their mothers", International Breastfeeding Journal, 2006 
  12. ^ Sabuncuoglu O (2013). "Understanding the relationships between breastfeeding, malocclusion, ADHD, sleep-disordered breathing and traumatic dental injuries". Medical Hypotheses 80 (3): 315–320.  
  13. ^ Alyssa Gillego, M.D; Stephanie Bernik, M.D. "Breast-Feeding Might Cut Risk for Tough-to-Treat Breast Cancer: Study". Retrieved 18 October 2012. 
  14. ^ Levin, Roy J. (May 2006). "The breast/nipple/areola complex and human sexuality". Sexual & Relationship Therapy 21 (2): 237–249.  
  15. ^ Gouveri E, Papanas N, Hatzitolios AI, Maltezos E (2011). "Breastfeeding and diabetes". Current diabetes reviews 7 (2): 135–42.  
  16. ^ a b Chantry CJ, Wiedeman J, Buehring G, Peerson JM, Hayfron K, K'Aluoch O, Lonnerdal B, Israel-Ballard K, Coutsoudis A, Abrams B (2011). "Effect of Flash-Heat Treatment on Antimicrobial Activity of Breastmilk". Breastfeeding Medicine 6 (3): 111–116.  
  17. ^ "Lymphocytes bearing the T cell receptor gamma delta in human breast milk". 1990-11-01. Retrieved 2012-12-01. 
  18. ^ The Newborn Immune System and Immunological Benefits of Breastmilk
  19. ^ Breastfeeding Answers Made Simple - Breastfeeding Reporter - Do Breastfeeding Babies Need Extra Iron at 4 Months?
  20. ^ First AAP recommendations on iron supplementation include directive on universal screening
  21. ^ Paesano R, Pacifici E, Benedetti S, Berlutti F, Frioni A, Polimeni A, Valenti P (2014). "Safety and efficacy of lactoferrin versus ferrous sulphate in curing iron deficiency and iron deficiency anaemia in hereditary thrombophilia pregnant women: An interventional study". BioMetals.  
  22. ^ Prentice, A.M., Paul, A., Prentice, A., Black, A., Cole, T., & Whitehead, R. (1986). Cross - cultural differences in lactational performance. In Maternal Environmental Factors in Human Lactation. Human Lactation 2, pp. 13 = 44 [Hamosh, M., & Goldman, A.S. (eds). New York: Plenum Press.
  23. ^ "Breast-feeding: Pumping and maintaining your milk supply". 2010-03-13. Retrieved 2011-10-26. 
  24. ^ "How Can I Increase My Milk Supply?". LLLI. 2011-06-21. Retrieved 2011-10-26. 
  25. ^ "Breast milk: Increasing supply - iVillage". 2010-01-01. Retrieved 2011-10-26. 
  26. ^ "How Breast Milk is Produced". Retrieved 2011-10-26. 
  27. ^ a b Becker, Genevieve E; Smith, Hazel A; Cooney, Fionnuala; Becker, Genevieve E (2015). "Methods of milk expression for lactating women".  
  28. ^ "Fenugreek Seed for Increasing Supply". 
  29. ^ "Increasing Low Milk Supply". 
  30. ^ Constituents of human milk United Nations University Centre
  31. ^ Mohrbacher, Nancy. "Worries About Foremilk and Hindmilk". Breastfeeding USA. Retrieved 1 March 2015. 
  32. ^ Rechtman, D. J.; Ferry, B.; Lee, M. L.; Chapel, H. (2002). "Immunoglobulin A (IgA) content of human breast milk over time". International Journal of Infectious Diseases 6 (S3): S58.  
  33. ^ Belitz, H. (2009). Food Chemistry (4th ed.). Berlin: Springer. p. 501 [table 10.5].  
  34. ^ Precht, D.; Molkentin, J. (1999). "C18:1, C18:2, and C8:3 trans and cis fatty acid isomers including conjugated cis delta 9, trans delta 11 linoleic acid (CLA) as well as total fat composition of German human milk lipids". Nahrung 43 (4): 233–244.  
  35. ^ Friesen, R.; Innis, S. M. (2006). "Trans Fatty acids in Human milk in Canada declined with the introduction of trans fat food labeling". J. Nut 136: 2558–2561. 
  36. ^ Svanborg C, Agerstam H, Aronson A, Bjerkvig R, Düringer C, Fischer W, Gustafsson L, Hallgren O, Leijonhuvud I, Linse S, Mossberg AK, Nilsson H, Pettersson J, Svensson M (2003). "HAMLET kills tumor cells by an apoptosis-like mechanism--cellular, molecular, and therapeutic aspects.". Advances in Cancer Research 88: 1–29.  
  37. ^ Jenness R (July 1979). "The composition of human milk". Seminars in Perinatology 3 (3): 225–239.  
  38. ^ Thorell L, Sjöberg LB, Hernell O (December 1996). "Nucleotides in human milk: sources and metabolism by the newborn infant". Pediatric Research 40 (6): 845–852.  
  39. ^ Sánchez CL, Cubero J, Sánchez J, Chanclón B, Rivero M, Rodríguez AB, Barriga C (2009). "The possible role of human milk nucleotides as sleep inducers.". Nutr Neurosci 12 (1): 2–8.  
  40. ^ Fride E, Bregman T, Kirkham TC (April 2005). "Endocannabinoids and food intake: newborn suckling and appetite regulation in adulthood" (PDF). Experimental Biology and Medicine 230 (4): 225–234.  
  41. ^ The Endocannabinoid-CB Receptor System: Importance for development and in pediatric disease Neuroendocrinology Letters Nos.1/2, Feb-Apr Vol.25, 2004.
  42. ^ Cannabinoids and Feeding: The Role of the Endogenous Cannabinoid System as a Trigger for Newborn Suckling Women and Cannabis: Medicine, Science, and Sociology, 2002 The Haworth Press, Inc.
  43. ^ Williams, Florence (2012-06-16). "The wonder of breasts". The Guardian (London). 
  44. ^ Martín R, Jiménez E, Heilig H, Fernández L, Marín ML, Zoetendal EG, Rodríguez JM (2009). "Isolation of Bifidobacteria from Breast Milk and Assessment of the Bifidobacterial Population by PCR-Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis and Quantitative Real-Time PCR.". Applied and Environmental Microbiology 75 (4): 965–969.  
  45. ^ Bode, L. (12 September 2015). "The functional biology of human milk oligosaccharides". PubMed. Retrieved 19 September 2015. 
  46. ^ Rodekamp E, Harder T, Kohlhoff R, Dudenhausen JW, Plagemann A (2006). "Impact of breast-feeding on psychomotor and neuropsychological development in children of diabetic mothers: role of the late neonatal period". Journal of Perinatal Medicine 34 (6): 490–6.  
  47. ^ "Breastfeeding | Health benefits for mother and baby". 2010-08-01. Retrieved 2011-10-26. 
  48. ^ "What are the LLLI guidelines for storing my pumped milk?". 
  49. ^ Protocol #8: Human milk storage information for home use for healthy full-term infants. Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine Protocol.
  50. ^ Department of Health, 1994. Weaning and the weaning diet. Report of the Working Group on the Weaning Diet of the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food Policy. London: HMSO. Report on Health and Social Subjects No 45.
  51. ^ a b Vegetarian & Vegan Foundation
  52. ^ Vegetarian & Vegan Foundation
  53. ^ FSA, 2002. McCance and Widdowson’s The Composition of Foods, 6th summary edition. Cambridge, England, Royal Society of Chemistry.
  54. ^ MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: Cow's milk for infants and children
  55. ^ Martinez, G.A., Ryan, A.S. and Malec, D.J. 1985. Nutrient intakes of American infants and children fed cow's milk or infant formula. American Journal of Diseases in Children. 139 (10) 1010-8.
  56. ^ Osborn DA, Sinn J (2003). "Formulas containing hydrolysed protein for prevention of allergy and food intolerance in infants". The Cochrane Library (4): CD003664.  
  57. ^ The Milk Of Human Kindness: Uses For Human Breast Milk
  58. ^ Bella Online: Medicinal Uses of Breast milk
  59. ^ New England Journal of Medicine Breast Milk & Risk of CMV 1980
  60. ^ Mabuka J, Nduati R, Odem-Davis K, Peterson D, Overbaugh J (2012). Desrosiers, Ronald C, ed. "HIV-Specific Antibodies Capable of ADCC Are Common in Breastmilk and Are Associated with Reduced Risk of Transmission in Women with High Viral Loads". PLoS Pathogens 8 (6): e1002739.  
  61. ^ Hallgren O, Aits S, Brest P, Gustafsson L, Mossberg AK, Wullt B, Svanborg C (2008). "Apoptosis and tumor cell death in response to HAMLET (human alpha-lactalbumin made lethal to tumor cells". Adv Exp Med Biol. 606: 217–40.  
  62. ^ New York Daily News: Restaurant Drops Plan to Cook with Breast Milk
  63. ^ Tammy Frissell-Deppe. A Breastfeeding Mother's Secret Recipes: Breast milk Recipes, Fun Food for Kids and Quick Dishes!. Dracut, MA: JED Publishing, 2002
  64. ^ The Breast Is Best! PETA Asks Ben & Jerry's to Dump Dairy and Go With Human Milk Instead
  65. ^ PETA Urges Ben & Jerry's To Use Human Milk
  66. ^ Jelliffe, Derrick B., and E. F. Patrice Jelliffe. Human Milk in the Modern World. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1978.
  67. ^ The Traditional Midwife: Mother's Milk Soap
  68. ^ --> Drugs and Other Substances in Breast Milk Retrieved on June 19, 2009
  69. ^ Silent Snow: The Slow Poisoning of the Arctic by Marla Cone, Grove Press.
  70. ^ a b Williams, Florence (2005-01-09). "Toxic Breast Milk?". The New York Times. 
  71. ^ Clínica busca cómo hacer queso de leche materna, Nación, 17 June 2007
  72. ^ "Swiss restaurant to serve meals cooked with human breast milk A Swiss gastronomist has stirred a controversy in the tranquil Alpine republic after announcing that he will serve meals cooked with human breast milk.". The Daily Telegraph (London). 2008-09-17. Retrieved 2010-04-26. 
  73. ^ "Breast milk ice cream goes on sale in Covent Garden.". BBC News (London). 2011-02-24. Retrieved 2011-03-07. 
  74. ^ "Baby Gaga breast milk ice cream seized for safety tests.". BBC News (London). 2011-03-01. Retrieved 2011-03-07. 
  75. ^ a b Keim SA, Hogan JS, McNamara KA, Gudimetla V, Dillon CE, Kwiek JJ, Geraghty SR (2013). "Microbial Contamination of Human Milk Purchased Via the Internet". Pediatrics 132 (5): e1227–e1235.  


See also

There is a market for human breast milk, both in the form of wet nurse service and milk product. As a product, breast milk is exchanged by human milk banks as well as directly between milk donors and customers mediated by websites on the Internet. Human milk banks generally have standardized measures for screening donors and storing the milk, while donors on websites vary in regard to these measures. A study in 2013 came to the result that 74% of breast milk samples from providers found from websites were colonized with Gram-negative bacteria or had more than 10.000 colony-forming units/mL of aerobic bacteria.[75] Growth happens during transit.[75]


An Icecreamist in London's Covent Garden started selling an ice cream named Baby Gaga in February 2011. Each serving costs £14. All the milk was donated by Mrs Hiley who earns £15 for every 10 ounces and calls it a "great recession beater".[73] The ice cream sold out on its first day. Despite the success of the new flavour, the Westminster Council officers removed the product from the menu to make sure that it was, as they said, "fit for human consumption."[74]

A controversial Swiss restaurateur has created a menu based around foods cooked in human breast milk.[72]

In Costa Rica, there have been trials to produce cheese and custard from human milk as an alternative to weaning[71]

Extraordinary consumption

In 1981 researchers in the U.S. discovered the flame retardant PBDE in stored human milk samples. Testing showed that between the early 70s when the chemical first came into use and up to 1998, levels of PBDE's in breast milk were doubling every five years and levels were found to be 10 to 100 times higher than those of women in Europe and Japan.[70]

Persistent toxins were first discovered in breast milk in 1951, when a group of mothers were tested for the pesticide DDT. In 1966, a Swedish researcher found that his wife's breast milk contained polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and five years later Sweden banned PCB's, with the United States following a few years later. But because of their widespread use and persistence, they are still the highest-concentration toxins in breast milk. Most scientists maintain that prenatal exposure to PCB's can do real damage. Researchers in the Great Lakes region, the Arctic and the Netherlands found that babies born to mothers with mid- to upper-range background levels of PCB contamination (most likely because of diets rich in contaminated fish and animal products) have reduced immunities against infections, lower I.Q.'s and delayed learning capabilities, with some problems lasting at least into early adolescence. However, researchers were surprised to learn that although the children who were breast-fed had higher PCB levels than children who were not breastfed, they consistently performed better than those who drank formula—breast milk appeared to be at least partly protective against the effects of toxic chemicals.[70]


Environmental pollutants

Attempts to formulate soap from breast milk have also been made, and those using it claim that its effectiveness as a cleanser is greater than, or equal to, that of traditional soaps.[67]

A minority of people, including restaurateurs Hans Lochen of PETA ignited a firestorm of criticism when it urged a dairy company to replace the cow's milk they use in their ice cream products with human breast milk as a way to stop cattle abuse.[64][65] Human breast milk is not produced or distributed industrially or commercially, because the use of human breast milk as an adult food is considered unusual to the majority of cultures around the world, and most disapprove of such a practice.[66]

Breast milk has been used as a [61]

In addition to providing essential nourishment to infants, human milk; i.e., breast milk, has a number of valuable uses, especially medicinal uses, for both children and adults. It has been used medicinally for thousands of years.[57][58] Breast milk contains strong antibodies and antitoxins that many people believe promote healing and better overall health. However, breast milk lacks sterile and antiseptic properties if a nursing mother is infected with certain communicable diseases, such as HIV and CMV, as breast milk can transmit such diseases to infants and other people.[59][60]

Alternative uses for breast milk

Whole cow's milk contains too little iron, retinol, vitamin E, vitamin C, vitamin D, unsaturated fats or essential fatty acids for human babies.[50][51][52][53] Whole cow's milk also contains too much protein, sodium, potassium, phosphorus and chloride which may put a strain on an infant's immature kidneys. In addition, the proteins, fats and calcium in whole cow's milk are more difficult for an infant to digest and absorb than the ones in breast milk.[51][54][55] Evaporated milk may be easier to digest due to the processing of the protein but is still nutritionally inadequate. Some infants are allergic to cow's milk protein, this problem affecting infant formulas derived from cow's milk.[56]

All mammalian species produce milk, but the composition of milk for each species varies widely and other kinds of milk are often very different from human breast milk. As a rule, the milk of mammals that nurse frequently (including human babies) is less rich, or more watery, than the milk of mammals whose young nurse less often. Human milk is noticeably thinner and sweeter than cow's milk.

Comparison to other milks

Place of storage Temperature Maximum storage time
In a room 25 °C 77 °F Six to eight hours
Insulated thermal bag with ice packs Up to 24 hours
In a refrigerator 4 °C 39 °F Up to five days
Freezer compartment inside a refrigerator -15 °C 5 °F Two weeks
A combined refrigerator and freezer with separate doors -18 °C 0 °F Three to six months
Chest or upright manual defrost deep freezer -20 °C -4 °F Six to twelve months

Expressed breast milk can be stored. Lipase may cause thawed milk to taste soapy or rancid due to milk fat breakdown. It is still safe to use, and most babies will drink it. Scalding it will prevent rancid taste at the expense of antibodies.[48] It should be stored with airtight seals . Some plastic bags are designed for storage periods of less than 72 hours. Others can be used for up to 12 months if frozen. This table describes safe storage time limits.[49]

Bottle of Pumped Breast Milk

Storage of expressed breast milk

Most women that do not breastfeed use infant formula, but breast milk donated by volunteers to human milk banks can be obtained by prescription in some countries.[47]

Women breastfeeding should consult with their physician regarding substances that can be unwittingly passed to the infant via breast milk, such as alcohol, viruses (HIV or HTLV-1) or medications.

The breast milk of diabetic mothers has been shown to have a different composition from that of non-diabetic mothers. It may contain elevated levels of glucose and insulin and decreased polyunsaturated fatty acids. A dose-dependent effect of diabetic breast milk on increasing language delays in infants has also been noted, although doctors recommend that diabetic mothers breastfeed despite this potential risk.[46]

Breast milk contains a unique type of sugars, human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs), which are not present in infant formula. HMOs are not digested by the infant but help to make up the intestinal flora. They act as decoy receptors that block the attachment of disease causing pathogens, which may help to prevent infectious diseases. They also alter immune cell responses, which may benefit the infant. To date (2015) more than a hundred different HMOs have been identified; both the number and composition vary between women and each HMO may have a distinct functionality.[45]

Breast milk isn't sterile, but contains as many as 600 different species of various bacteria, including beneficial Bifidobacterium breve, B. adolescentis, B. longum, B. bifidum, and B. dentium.[44]

Mother's milk has been shown to supply endocannabinoids (the natural neurotransmitters that marijuana simulates) 2-Arachidonoyl glycerol[40] and anandamide.[41][42] They may act as an appetite stimulant, but they also regulate appetite so infants don't eat too much. That may be why formula-fed babies have a higher caloric intake than breastfed babies.[43]

Non-protein nitrogen-containing compounds, making up 25% of the milk's nitrogen, include urea, uric acid, creatine, creatinine, amino acids, and nucleotides.[37][38] Breast milk has circadian variations; some of the nucleotides are more commonly produced during the night, others during the day.[39]

The principal proteins are alpha-lactalbumin, lactoferrin (apo-lactoferrin), IgA, lysozyme, and serum albumin. In an acidic environment such as the stomach, alpha-lactalbumin unfolds into a different form and binds oleic acid to form a complex called HAMLET that kills tumor cells. This is thought to contribute to the protection of breastfed babies against cancer.[36]

Human milk contains 0.8% to 0.9% protein, 4.5% fat, 7.1% carbohydrates, and 0.2% ash (minerals).[33] Carbohydrates are mainly lactose; several lactose-based oligosaccharides have been identified as minor components. The fat fraction contains specific triglycerides of palmitic and oleic acid (O-P-O triglycerides), and also lipids with trans bonds (see: trans fat). The lipids are vaccenic acid, and Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) accounting for up to 6% of the human milk fat.[34][35]

The level of Immunoglobulin A (IgA) in breast milk remains high from day 10 until at least 7.5 months post-partum.[32]

In the 1980s and 1990s, lactation professionals (De Cleats) used to make a differentiation between foremilk and hindmilk. But this differentiation causes confusion as there are not two types of milk. Instead, as a baby breastfeeds, the fat content very gradually increases, with the milk becoming fattier and fattier over time.[31]

Colostrum will gradually change to become mature milk. In the first 3–4 days it will appear thin and watery and will taste very sweet; later, the milk will be thicker and creamier. Human milk quenches the baby's thirst and hunger and provides the proteins, sugar, minerals, and antibodies that the baby needs.

During the first few days after delivery, the mother produces colostrum. This is a thin yellowish fluid that is the same fluid that sometimes leaks from the breasts during pregnancy. It is rich in protein and antibodies that provide passive immunity to the baby (the baby's immune system is not fully developed at birth). Colostrum also helps the newborn's digestive system to grow and function properly.

Colostrum vs breastmilk

If nutrient supply is found lacking, content is obtained from the mother's bodily stores. The exact composition of breast milk varies from day to day, depending on food consumption and environment, meaning that the ratio of water to fat fluctuates.

Composition of human breast milk[30]
Fat (g/100 ml)
total 4.2
fatty acids - length 8C trace
polyunsaturated fatty acids 0,6
cholesterol 0,016
Protein (g/100 ml)
total 1.1
casein 0.4 0.3
a-lactalbumin 0.3
lactoferrin (apo-lactoferrin) 0.2
IgA 0.1
IgG 0.001
lysozyme 0.05
serum albumin 0.05
ß-lactoglobulin -
Carbohydrate (g/100 ml)
lactose 7
oligosaccharides 0.5
Minerals (g/100 ml)
calcium 0.03
phosphorus 0.014
sodium 0.015
potassium 0.055
chlorine 0.043


Sodium concentration is higher in hand-expressed milk, when compared with the use of manual and electric pumps, and fat content is higher when the breast has been massaged, in conjunction with listening to relaxing audio. This may be important for low birthweight infants.[27] If pumping, it is helpful to have an electric, high-grade pump so that all of the milk ducts are stimulated. Galactagogues increase milk supply, although there are risks for even herbal variants, therefore non-pharmaceutical methods should be tried first.[28][29]

The amount of milk produced depends on how often the mother is nursing and/or pumping; the more the mother nurses her baby, or pumps, the more milk is produced.[23][24][25][26] It is beneficial to nurse on demand - to nurse when the baby wants to nurse rather than on a schedule. A Cochrane review came to the result that a greater volume of milk is expressed whilst listening to relaxing audio during breastfeeding, along with warming and massaging of the breast prior to and during feeding. A greater volume of milk expressed can also be attributed to instances where the mother starts pumping milk sooner, even if the infant is unable to breastfeed.[27]

Actual inability to produce enough milk is rare, with studies showing that mothers from developing countries experiencing nutritional hardship still produce amounts of milk of similar quality to that of mothers in developed countries.[22] There are many reasons a mother may not produce enough breast milk. Some of the most common reasons are an improper latch (i.e., the baby does not connect efficiently with the nipple), not nursing or pumping enough to meet supply, certain medications (including estrogen-containing hormonal contraceptives), illness, and dehydration. A rarer reason is Sheehan's syndrome, also known as postpartum hypopituitarism, which is associated with prolactin deficiency: This syndrome may require hormone replacement.

Under the influence of the hormones prolactin and oxytocin, women produce milk after childbirth to feed the baby. The initial milk produced is referred to as colostrum, which is high in the immunoglobulin IgA, which coats the gastrointestinal tract. This helps to protect the newborn until its own immune system is functioning properly. It also creates a mild laxative effect, expelling meconium and helping to prevent the build-up of bilirubin (a contributory factor in jaundice).

When the baby sucks its mother's breast, a hormone called oxytocin compels the milk to flow from the alveoli, through the ducts (milk canals) into the sacs (milk pools) behind the areola and then into the baby's mouth


At around four to six months of age, the internal iron supplies of the infant, held in the hepatic cells of the liver, are exhausted, hence this is the time that complementary feeding is introduced.[19][20] Breast milk contains less iron than formula, because it is more bioavailable as lactoferrin, which carries more safety for mothers and children than ferrous sulphate.[21]

Though it now is almost universally prescribed, in some countries in the 1950s the practice of breastfeeding went through a period where it was out of vogue and the use of infant formula was considered superior to breast milk. However, it is now universally recognized that there is no commercial formula that can equal breast milk. In addition to the appropriate amounts of carbohydrate, protein, and fat, breast milk provides vitamins, minerals, digestive enzymes,[16] and hormones.[16] Breast milk also contains antibodies and lymphocytes from the mother that help the baby resist infections.[17] The immune function of breast milk is individualized, as the mother, through her touching and taking care of the baby, comes into contact with pathogens that colonize the baby, and, as a consequence, her body makes the appropriate antibodies and immune cells.[18]

Breastfeeding also provides health benefits for the mother. It assists the uterus in returning to its pre-pregnancy size and reduces post-partum bleeding, as well as assisting the mother in returning to her pre-pregnancy weight. Breastfeeding also reduces the risk of breast cancer later in life.[13][14] Lactation protects both mother and infant from both types of diabetes.[15]

[12][11] children.adopted and a decreased risk of developing psychological disorders, including in [10] decreased risk of obesity later in life,[9] decreased dental problems,[9] decreased risk of asthma and eczema,[8] lower risk of childhood onset diabetes,[7],childhood leukemia a tiny decrease in the risk of [6] cold and flu resistance,[5] decreased likelihood of contracting middle ear infections,[4],intelligence increased [3],sudden infant death syndrome These benefits include a 73% decreased risk of [2] Breastfeeding offers health benefits to mother and child even after toddlerhood.[1]

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