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Breastmilk

  • By: Sonja Boon
  • In: Encyclopedia of Motherhood
  • Edited by: Andrea O'Reilly
  • Subject:Sociology of Gender, Parenting, Maternal Health

In general terms, breastmilk is the liquid product of the lactating breast. Most commonly used to feed infants and children, breastmilk is also understood to have recuperative properties.

Numerous components comprise breastmilk, including proteins, fats, vitamins, and carbohydrates. Each of these elements performs a specific role, from aiding in digestion, developing infant immunity, and ensuring adequate nutrition. More controversially, breastmilk is thought to stimulate intellectual development.

Liquid Gold

Breastmilk, as one of the only fluids to pass freely between humans, has powerful conceptual potential. Referred to in breastfeeding literature as “liquid gold,” breastmilk has been understood as integral to the transmission of both physical and moral characteristics from mother to child. Historical texts counsel women to maintain not only their physical health, but also to cultivate a state ...

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