Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Acronyms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.


the method of feeding a baby with milk directly from the mother's breast. Also written breast feeding and breast-feeding.

There is strong research support that breast milk is the most appropriate nourishment for most infants. The benefits of breastfeeding are physical, emotional, and economic. Infants who are breastfed have lower rates of hospital admissions, ear infections, diarrhea, rashes, allergies, and other health problems than babies who receive infant formulas. Breastfeeding also benefits the mother by stimulating release of oxytocin, which causes involution of the uterus following pregnancy. It can also be a very satisfying experience for the mother-baby pair and encourage bonding. Nevertheless, breastfeeding is a personal decision to be made by the mother with the support of health care providers. Mothers should be encouraged and supported to breastfeed, but they should not be made to feel guilty or inadequate if circumstances interfere with their ability to do so. Certain harmful agents and substances, such as the human immunodeficiency virus, are transmitted through breast milk.

Breast milk is easily digested and of unique benefit to the baby, for whom it is perfectly formulated. It is sterile and contains nutrients needed by the infant in ideal proportions. It also contains immunoglobulins. Breast milk is the standard against which all other infant formulas should be compared. The national institute of allergy and infectious diseases notes that there is no conclusive research evidence that breastfeeding helps prevent the development of food allergies as the child grows older. However, keeping an infant on exclusive breastfeeding does delay the onset of allergies by delaying the infant's exposure to foods that might prompt allergies. Based on research sponsored by the agency for healthcare research and quality, Vitamin D supplementation is recommended for dark-skinned infants and children who are fed only breast milk, beginning by two months of age.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, after an extensive review of the research, recommends that breast milk be almost the only food that a healthy infant receives for the first four to six months after birth. The Surgeon General of the United States and Healthy People 2010 Goals for the Nation have reviewed the research and set national goals related to increasing the number of mothers who breastfeed their infants. Moreover, in the underdeveloped countries where sanitation is poor and community water, milk, and food supplies are likely to be contaminated, breastfed babies have a significantly lower mortality rate.

When an infant suckles the breast, prolactin is released into the bloodstream. This hormone stimulates production of breast milk. It also acts on the pituitary gland, interfering with the action of follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone, thus reducing the production of estrogen. The low level of estrogen during full breastfeeding interferes with ovulation and menstruation, resulting in lactation amenorrhea.

As a rule, the baby nurses at both breasts during each feeding. The breast used to initiate the feeding should be alternated. Some babies nurse rapidly and others do it slowly. An infant should nurse 10 to 12 times a day initially. The intervals between the feedings will grow longer as the infant grows. Typically, a full-term infant will nurse every 2 to 3 hours.

Researchers and clinicians categorize breastfeeding as either full or partial.Full breastfeeding is either exclusive or almost exclusive (the latter allowing for water, juice, and infrequently given food). Partial breastfeeding is defined as either high (over 80 per cent breast milk), medium, or low (under 20 per cent breast milk). Occasional, irregular breastfeeding (“token” or “comfort feeding”) is a category set apart from breastfeeding.

The la leche league is a voluntary organization that encourages breastfeeding and offers excellent support and guidance to nursing mothers. Local chapters may be listed in the telephone book, or their national office can be contacted by calling 1-800-LALECHE in the USA or 1-800-665-4324 in Canada. The web site for La Leche League International is Lactation consultants can also offer assistance to mothers and health care providers.
effective breastfeeding a nursing diagnosis accepted by the North American Nursing Diagnosis Association, defined as the state in which a mother-infant dyad/family exhibits adequate proficiency and satisfaction with the breastfeeding process.
ineffective breastfeeding a nursing diagnosis accepted by the North American Nursing Diagnosis Association, defined as dissatisfaction or difficulty that a mother, infant, or child experiences with the breastfeeding process. Defining characteristics include lack of observable signs of oxytocin release, persistence of sore nipples beyond the first week of breastfeeding, insufficient emptying of each breast at each feeding, actual or perceived inadequate milk supply, nonsustained or insufficient opportunity for sucking at the breast, infant inability to attach correctly to the maternal breast, and infant arching of the back and crying at the breast. Related factors include prematurity, infant anomaly, and maternal anxiety or ambivalence.
interrupted breastfeeding a nursing diagnosis accepted by the North American Nursing Diagnosis Association, defined as a break in the continuity of the breastfeeding process as a result of inability or inadvisability of putting the baby to the breast for feeding.


Etymology: AS, braest + ME, feden
1 suckling or nursing, giving a baby milk from the breast. Breastfeeding encourages postpartum uterine involution and slows the natural return of the menses. The World Health Organization recommends continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond. Also called nursing.
2 taking milk from the breast. See also breast milk,lactation.

Patient discussion about breastfeeding

Q. I gave birth 2 weeks ago and I am having real difficulties breast feeding it hurts really bad, and I am constantly worried that my baby isn't eating enough. What can I do?

A. if it really hurts, maybe you should stop it for a while (maybe there is a micro/small wound at your nipple). You should cure it first then you can soon start breastfeeding your baby again.

Just make sure you have enough drink, be relaxed while breastfeeding, and have enough & healthy nutrition also!
Stay healthy always..

Q. My baby is grunting and groaning while I breastfeed him. Is this normal? It only happens from time to time, but he makes these weird noises while nursing and I would like to know if it's standard behavior.

A. Does it sound like he is having trouble breathing while you breastfeed him? Does he make these sounds while crying also, or just while eating? All of these are things you should report to your pediatrician so you can be sure that the baby is not suffering from anything other than simple reflux while being breastfed.

More discussions about breastfeeding
References in periodicals archive ?
The survey also highlighted that almost a third (31%) of mothers also felt embarrassed about asking for help with breastfeeding from healthcare professionals.
To help protect and promote breastfeeding, experts are calling on countries to increase funding, expand paid maternity leave and inform mothers of the benefits of breastfeeding while providing skilled assistance.
The investment case shows that in five of the world's largest emerging economies-China, India, Indonesia, Mexico and Nigeria-the lack of investment in breastfeeding results in an estimated 236,000 child deaths per year and US$119 billion in economic losses.
The low rate of breastfeeding here is linked to the 'critical' state of malnutrition and undernutrition among Filipino children, say Unicef and WHO.
Global Breastfeeding Collective is making efforts to enable more mothers to breastfeed through enforcing the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes so that breast-milk substitute companies cannot mislead women, strengthening policy provisions that support family leave and encourage more working mothers to breastfeed their babies at family place.
During the event, the specialized breastfeeding team will provide one-on-one breastfeeding education and counseling, facilitate group discussions and offer breastfeeding classes to mothers.
However, the study also discovered that breastfeeding between a year and 23 months did not bring the equal amount of risk of cavities in children.
Almighty Allah has told in Holy Quran clearly mentions the time period of breastfeeding as two years with emphasis laid down as mother bears pain during the time when child is in the womb.
Exclusive breastfeeding plays an integral role in ensuring the child health and survival.
Since breastfeeding data are obtained by maternal recall when children are between 19 and 35 months of age, breastfeeding rates are analyzed by birth cohort rather than survey year," the researchers noted.
Mukhtiar Zaman was chief guest at seminar who also highlighted the importance of breastfeeding and termed it a natural diet for infants.
Breastfeeding should be a social norm; however, health norms are hindered by many factors.