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Is there anything more natural on Earth than breastfeeding your new-born baby? Breastfeeding is practiced in most societies (by 92.4% of women in South America, 94.5% in Asia and Oceania and 98.4% in Africa. Even in the West, where the use of breast milk has declined due to powdered milk, breastfeeding is now slowly on the rise again).

Forging bonds
Breastfeeding is more than just about nourishment: it creates an affectionate bond between mothers and their babies. In Mali, there is a proverb which says: "If you don't breastfeed your child, he won't recognise you". And in Sri Lanka, it is thought that bottlefed babies don't love their mothers. In India, it is thought that mothers give their children their characteristics when they breastfeed them.

There's a multitude of breastfeeding traditions and diets around the world. In Africa and China, women eat foods containing peanuts which are reputed to be galactagogues which help increase milk production (although there is a risk of peanut allergy and it's recommended you avoid peanuts if there is a history of allergies in the family). In Japan, breastfeeding women eat seaweed, while in Algeria they eat very rich food such as fried omelettes and savoury buttered semolina so that their breast milk will be rich. In Burkina Faso and the Ivory Coast, women massage their breasts with shea butter.


Sarah Horrocks
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Article Plan Childbirth around the world
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