Breastfeeding was at some point in history ‘uncool’ as wealthy and fashionable women, mostly white, avoided it. One of the likely causes of the newfound revulsion towards breastfeeding was a rather famous psychologist’s (you know this guy) stance that breast feeding was a source of sexual pleasure for the infant. In fact, the reasons baby bottles had a market in the first place was that women didn’t want a relatively poor and black ‘wet nurse’ in the house.
But the past was not single-faceted, naturalists existed even then, with remarks as extreme as “Even the fiercest beasts nurse their young, with the utmost tenderness; surely women who resisted their mammalian destiny were to be ranked as lowlier than the lowliest brute”. If you want to have more extensive review of the state of events in the past, this article in The New Yorker magazine will satiate you.
These days, milk has a solid reputation for being the supreme nourishment. Breast milk in particular is regarded as the birthright of every baby. We recognize that not only is it the source for nutrition but also the bioactive factors present in milk promote survival and healthy growth of the baby.
Astonishingly, there’s more to milk than we have previously thought. It turns out, not only is milk responsible for nourishing the baby but also the bacteria inside the infant’s gut. Research reveals that the unusually high amount of rare oligosaccharides present in human milk have evolved for the purpose of feeding Bifido Infantis bacteria in the gut. Bifido Infantis are highly beneficial bacteria that strengthen the immune system. It seems that the complete range of services the milk provides the infant are yet to be known.