From added insulation on cold days to extra antibodies during illness, breast milk is customised for every baby. If science will just tell us how, we could argue less about formula and breast pumps.

Human milk is the first intelligent superfood. We need to know the science of this medicinal marvel

We seem to put the boob before the baby. When it comes to breastfeeding – from where it’s appropriate to feed*, and for how long, to coping with the pain when babies don’t latch on properly – there’s more polarising debate about the act of feeding a baby from one’s mammary glands than appreciation for the substance of breast milk itself.
(*Breastfeeding in public is not explicitly banned in most countries, but there are many places where it is considered out of place. In Argentina or – most recently – in Texas, US, police have been called to incidents and protests.
Watch this video of a woman in Texas who was told not to breastfeed at a public pool.)

Even when human milk* does get our attention, conversation tends to revolve around the logistics: whether babies drink enough of it, how and where they access it, or possible substitutes. It’s easy to see why. The impact of breastfeeding extends far beyond the lactating parent and child: to the economy**, the healthcare sector and employers. The implications are felt in wider gender dynamics*** and reverberate across any number of cultural norms.
(*In this piece, I use the terms human milk and breast milk interchangeably. However, the term human milk is more inclusive and now widely preferred. Not only can trans fathers also lactate and feed their babies (a practice known as chestfeeding), but the term human milk puts less emphasis on babies feeding at the breast – making this language potentially less polarising.

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