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Breastfeeding is the practice of feeding infants and young children human milk from a lactating breast. Breastfeeding is a culturally situated process, meaning how it is practiced, by whom, for how long, and for what reasons vary across time and place. Throughout human history, breastfeeding—its presence or absence, its success or failure—has had a uniquely important impact on the lives of infants and young children. This entry examines how key historical changes in science, society, politics, and culture have shaped the practice and meaning of breastfeeding.

Toward a Modern Conception of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding has long been a site upon which cultural and political debates have raged over the proper place of women in society. Similarly, the meanings and practices that surround breastfeeding illuminate important ideas about ...

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