Image Caption : Breastfeeding Infant Revealing Olfactory Bulb : The olfactory bulb in the brain (highlighted in the image) conveys chemical information about odors to the cerebral cortex. There is a strong relationship between memory and the emotional dimension of food. Memory is embodied, often recalled via the sensations of taste and smell. One major emotion that is constantly linked with food is that of love, particularly maternal love.


Also called: Lactation, Nursing

Breastfeeding offers many benefits to your baby. Breast milk contains the right balance of nutrients to help your infant grow into a strong and healthy toddler. Some of the nutrients in breast milk also help protect your infant against some common childhood illnesses and infections. It may also help your health. Certain types of cancer may occur less often in mothers who have breastfed their babies.

Women who don't have health problems should try to give their babies breast milk for at least the first six months of life. There are some cases when it's better not to breastfeed. If you have HIV or active tuberculosis, you should not breastfeed because you could give the infection to your baby. Certain medicines, illegal drugs, and alcohol can also pass through the breast milk and cause harm to your baby.

If you are having problems with breastfeeding, contact a lactation consultant.

NIH: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Breastfeeding is feeding of infants or young children with breast milk from female breasts (i.e. through lactation). The sucking reflex enables babies to suck and swallow milk instinctively. Some mothers express (expel) milk to be used later when their child is being cared for by others. This can done either by hand or by using a breast pump.

Globally, inadequate nutrition is an underlying cause of the deaths of more than 2.6 million children and over 100,000 mothers every year.

Many health groups, such as World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF support 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding and continued partial breastfeeding for extended periods.

Breastmilk offers benefits for both mother and baby. It is easy for the baby to digest, which promotes more frequent eating due to faster digestion. It may decrease risk of diabetes and celiac disease. Benefits for the mother include better uterine shrinkage, decreased risk of breast cancer, and decreased risk of postpartum depression. It may also be a bonding experience for mother and child, and can be less expensive than infant formula. Controversially, decreased risk for obesity in adulthood and improved cognitive development have been mooted.

Consensus holds that breastfeeding is beneficial and superior to infant formula in most circumstances. Formula feeding is associated with more deaths from diarrhea in infants in both developing and developed countries. In developing countries this is largely due to the risk of contamination of formula milk with infectious agents within unhygienic environments.

The material on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Consult a licensed medical professional for the diagnosis and treatment of all medical conditions and before starting a new diet or exercise program. If you have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.