Religion and Breastfeeding
Every religious tradition emphasizes the beauty, sanctity and value of children.
Most of the world’s religions place particular emphasis on the total care of the child. This care begins before birth. Once a child is born, one of the most important things a mother can do is breastfeed, and many religious texts treat breastfeeding as a right and responsibility and as an act of love, sacrifice, and kindness. For example:
- The mothers shall give suck to their offspring for two whole years… (The Holy Qur’an – s. Baqara [2:232])
- Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation (Holy Bible, Peter 2:2)
- As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed! (Holy Bible, Luke 11:27)
- Because of your father’s God who helps you, because of the almighty who blesses you, with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lies below, blessings of the breast and the womb. (Holy Bible, Gen 49:25; Proverbs 10:22).
- Drink deeply of her glory even as an infant drinks at its mother’s comforting breast” (Holy Bible, Isaiah 66:11)
- So she stayed home and nursed the boy until he was weaned, (Holy Bible, Samuel 1:23b)
- Yet you brought me safely from my mother’s womb and led me to trust you at my mother’s breast, (Holy Bible, Psalm 22:9)
- May four oceans, full of milk, constantly abide in both your breasts, you blessed one, for the increase of the strength of the child! Drinking of the milk, whose sap is the sap of immortal life divine, may your baby gain long life, as do the gods by feeding on the beverage of immortality!” (Susruta, III, 10)
- Whenever you want to do a bodily action, you should reflect on it: ‘This bodily action I want to do — would it lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Would it be an unskillful bodily action, with painful consequences, painful results?’ If, on reflection, you know that it would lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both… then any bodily action of that sort is absolutely unfit for you to do. But if on reflection you know that it would not cause affliction… it would be a skillful bodily action with pleasant consequences, pleasant results, then any bodily action of that sort is fit for you to do. (Ambalatthika-rahulovada Sutta) 
The following text also points to the role of faith leaders in communicating appropriate messages based on knowledge about child survival strategies:
- My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children. (Holy Bible, Hosea 4:6 NIV)