Nursing Facts
Nursing Facts

55 Interesting Breastfeeding Facts

Karin Lehnardt
By Karin Lehnardt, Senior Writer
Published January 23, 2018Updated September 7, 2019
  • In the 17th and 18th centuries, many men in Europe and America would not let their wives breastfeed, especially if their wives had just given birth to a girl, since breastfeeding might have inhibited the conception of their next child.[20]
  • A poor woman in the 17th and 18th centuries might have chosen to get pregnant on purpose in order to be hired as a wet nurse. She would have sent her own baby to a "baby farm," a kind of paid fosterage where children were often neglected.[20]
  • Breastfeeding creates more dense tissue in the breasts. After breastfeeding, both fatty tissue and connective tissue can shrink, change size, or even make one breast seem larger than the other.[5]
  • Each breast functions independently. What happens to one breast during breastfeeding may not happen to the other breast. For example, breast engorgement may leave one breast larger than the other.[5]
  • Wet Nurse Fact
    In 18th century France, nearly 90 percent of infants were wet nursed
  • During the 17th and 18th centuries, upper-class women often used a wet nurse to breastfeed their babies, even though the gentlewomen were much more likely to enjoy a rich and varied diet.[20]
  • After weaning, it's possible for one breast to return to pre-pregnancy size while the other breast droops, stays larger, or flattens.[5]
  • Babies have a powerful sense of smell and can identify their mother's breast milk by scent.[12]
  • Breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer in mothers.[12]
  • Breast milk changes during a feeding session.[12]
  • Breast milk has been called "liquid gold."[2]
  • Humans are the only species that continue to consume milk and milk products after being weaned.[2]
  • Even though there is little evidence to support its effectiveness, some people use breast milk to treat cancer, digestive orders, and immune disorders.[2]
  • Pope Francis encouraged mothers to nurse their children in the Sistine Chapel, advising "if they are hungry, mothers feed them, without thinking twice. Because they are the most important people here."[6]
  • My opinion is that anybody offended by breastfeeding is staring too hard.

    - David Allen

  • Researchers are trying synthesize a component in breast milk called HAMLET (human alpha-lactalbumin made lethal to tumor cells) that causes tumor cells to die.[2]
  • Breast milk has been used to treat burns, eye infections, diaper rash, and to reduce infection and promote healing in wounds.[2]
  • The World Health Organization and UNICEF have recommended that mothers breastfeed for at least two years. Most nursing mothers in the United States stop before their baby is six months old.[4]
  • A mother's breasts can gain up to two pounds each in preparation for feeding an infant.[14]
  • In high-income countries, breastfeeding reduces the risk of sudden infant deaths by over one-third.[19]
  • In nearly 3/4 of new mothers, the right breast makes more milk than the left.[14]
  • Breast Milk BodyBuild
    Unfortunately, scientists say breast milk will not pump you up
  • Some bodybuilders drink breast milk as a type of superfood.[2]
  • Breast milk sprays from multiple holes in the nipple rather than just one hole. The amount of holes varies from mother to mother, usually between 10–20 pores. In other words, a nipple is similar to a sieve.[14]
  • Alyse Ogletree holds the record for the most breast milk ever donated, a whopping 53,081 ounces.[14]
  • If all, or nearly all, new mothers breastfed, nearly 820,000 infant lives could be saved every year and 13% of all deaths in children under five could be prevented.[19]
  • Children who are breastfed longer have been found to have higher intelligence than those who are breastfed for shorter periods of time.[19]
  • The wealthier the country, the less likely mothers are to breastfeed.[19]
  • Breastfeeding is one of the few health recommendations in which poorer countries are closer to WHO guidelines than rich countries.[19]
  • Globally, approximately 40% of infants 0–6 months old are breastfed.[13]
  • Formula-fed babies in less developed countries are up to 25 times more likely to die of diarrhea and four times more likely to die of pneumonia than a breastfed child.[15]
  • Babies can only see about 15–18 inches away, which is the distance between a mother's face and her baby's face when breastfeeding.[12]
  • Incredible Breastmilk Fact
    A true bonding moment

  • During the newborn stage, the average breastfeeding session lasts between 20–45 minutes.[3]
  • In the United States, on average, women with these characteristics were more likely to breastfeed: 1) higher levels of education, 2) older, and 3) white.[18]
  • Women who have an unplanned pregnancy are less likely to breastfeed.[8]
  • The United Kingdom has the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world, with only 0.5% of mothers still breastfeeding at one year. In comparison, 99% of mothers in Senegal breastfeed.[10]
  • In some cultures, children who are breastfed by the same person are considered "milk siblings" and are equal in social and legal standings to a blood sibling.[1]
  • The milk-production stimulation hormone prolactin is also responsible for suppressing ovulation.[11]
  • Breast Milk Fact
    Bigger isn't always better
  • A woman's cup size doesn't determine the amount of milk she will produce. Milk production and storage depends on hormones.[17]
  • In the Biblical book of Isaiah, God is compared to a mother who could never forget her nursing child.[11]
  • In Exodus, breastmilk is compared to the manna that falls from the heavens to sustain the Israelites who wander 40 years in the desert.[11]
  • In Genesis, Sarah, Abraham's wife and ancestress of Israel, proves her motherhood at the age of 99 by revealing her breasts "pouring out milk like two jets of water."[11]
  • Before infant formula was invented, a woman who did not breastfeed gave her children various concoctions, such as mushed bread and beer.[7]
  • Infants cannot digest some parts of human milk, but healthy bacteria in their guts can. Scientists believe that mothers don't just nurse infants, but intestinal bacteria as well.[7]
  • Early research shows that boys receive fattier breast milk than girls.[7]
  • Breast milk is notoriously difficult to study because breast milk is constantly changing depending on a myriad of factors, including the age, health, and gender of the baby and the baby's relationship to its mother.[7]
  • Breast milk reportedly tastes like "heavily sweetened almond milk" and smells like mild, sweet cow's milk. Its consistency is similar to watered-down cow's milk.[2]
  • Breast Milk Trivia
    Some people say breast milk smells "soapy"—this is due to lipase, an enzyme which helps break down fats

  • Invented in 1867, the first commercial infant formula was named "Liebig’s Soluble Food for Babies."[7]
  • Human breast milk is not sterile. A baby drinking 27 ounces of breast milk will consume anywhere from 100,000 to 10 million bacteria each day.[11]
  • Next to prostitution, wet-nursing is one of the world's oldest female professions.[11]
  • Elisabeth Anderson-Sierra has hyper lactation syndrome, which means she can produce about 225 ounces of milk a day, or about 1.7 gallons. Most nursing women produce about 15–30 ounces of breast milk a day.[9]
  • King Tut built a lavish tomb to honor his wet nurse.[11]
  • Mammy, the house slave in Gone with the Wind, wasn't just a servant who raised Scarlett O'Hara; she was also Scarlett's wet nurse.[11]
  • Nursing Madonna
    To some extent, the milk of the Virgin Mary paralleled the role of the Blood of Christ
  • For most of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, the Virgin Mary breastfeeding the infant Jesus was a more common depiction of divine love than the crucifixion.[11]
  • Philosophers such as Pliny and Plutarch believed that a child could imbibe the physical and mental qualities of a wet nurse through her milk.[11]
  • In early 18th century America, breast milk was the most frequently advertised vendible in colonial newspapers.[11]
  • Most mammalian milk contains around 30 to 50 different sugar molecules. Human milk has over 200.[11]
  • A New York City restaurant sells cheese made out of breast milk. The chef says the flavor depends on what the mother eats.[16]
  • Amazing Breastfeeding Facts INFOGRAPHIC
    Breastfeeding Infographic