Everything You Should Know About Adult Breast Feeding in Ancient Rome

by | Motherhood

Breastfeeding is a natural phenomenon, and humans are laid with intrinsic abilities to produce milk after giving birth. Breastfeeding your newborns is considered a compulsion in some cultures. There is strong scientific proof that breastfeeding is healthy for the baby, and it also saves the mother from many health issues.

Adult breastfeeding is a question of concern. Some people may find this practice soothing and a means of communication. Others do it for medical reasons. However, some find adult breastfeeding weird and unethical.

Adult breastfeeding is a topic of debate, but history tells us that we are not the only society discussing it. Evidence supports that ancient Rome also indulged in adult breastfeeding. They had their reasons for this unnatural act slightly different from today’s culture, but the practice originated in their time.

This article may solve some of your concerns regarding adult breastfeeding and can save you from unnecessary judgment.

What Is Adult Breastfeeding?

Breast milk is supposed to be for the child. It builds the baby’s immunity and saves them from developing diseases after birth. Breast milk is also rich in nutrients like proteins and fats and improves a baby’s digestion.

Adult breastfeeding means feeding an adult rather than your infant. It may sound like a perversion, but some people find it an important component of building emotional connections with the feeding person. Adult breastfeeding has been known to originate for a long time now. It may be thrilling and somewhat weird to know that there are places where breastmilk is actually sold!

Some people confessed that breastfeeding helped them recover from emotional trauma. Others believe breastfeeding a person develops a sense of affection and love for that person. Consuming the milk directly from the nursing mother helps relieve stress and promotes intimacy by releasing hormones.

Bodybuilders are known for consuming breast milk. It is not just a funny meme from the internet, but breastmilk does help them build muscles. The proteins in breast milk are the body’s building blocks and help in growth and development.

The unlimited nutrients in breast milk make the human race curious about its effects on an adult, and it has led to adult breastfeeding becoming quite common in our society.

How Long Did Humans Breastfeed Historically?

Humans tend to feed their babies for 2 to 2.5 years before they start weaning. As the baby can achieve nutrients from other sources, you can discontinue breastfeeding after 2 years. But the ancient humans tell us a different story.

Australopithecus Africanus is a mysterious human species that existed about 2 million years ago. The study of fossils of these species gives us astounding information. When their teeth are examined, they show that these humans fed their babies till 6 years of age.

The changes in their teeth structure also reveal that these humans faced some food crises. It could have been a reason to feed their babies till such grown ages.

How long did Neanderthals breastfeed?

Studying teeth from a fossil can tell a lot about the eating habits of a specie. When scientists studied Neanderthals, their teeth told the scientist that they had some modern breastfeeding habits.

Neanderthals fed their babies with breast milk up to seven months of age. After that, there is evidence of shifting to solid food. Homo Sapiens breastfeed for up to 2 years of age. It tells how important breastfeeding is for your infant. Maybe one of the reasons for Neanderthal extinction was the lack of breastfeeding. You never know!

What Culture Breastfeeds the Longest?

A Global Breastfeeding Survey held in 2015 tells us that women in Turkey breastfeed for the longest period of time. There are no specific reasons for this, but nutritive demands may play a role.

It is believed that educated mothers breastfeed for a longer period. It is because they are aware of the benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and child.

Sometimes, reasons for longer breastfeeding time may be related to the mother’s emotional state. Oxytocin released during breastfeeding can lessen fear and anxiety, making the mother addicted to it.

What Culture Does Not Breastfeed?

Despite the long list of advantages of breastfeeding, some cultures and countries do not promote it. If we talk about Russia, they have some strict controversies about breastfeeding. Women fear breastfeeding their young ones due to a past event where some people accused a pre-natal health worker of being a cult leader and blamed breastfeeding as taboo.

In Tanzania, the Gogo tribe has their own beliefs about breastfeeding and having marital relations simultaneously. It leads to decreased breastfeeding practice among their women.

Adult Breastfeeding in Ancient Rome:

Today’s society has an explanation for every new happening. The internet will give you a million possible explanations if we talk about adult breastfeeding. Also, it is now a common practice in some cultures. If we dig into history, we can trace breastfeeding back to ancient Rome.

Romans are known for their cultural beliefs and technological advancement. They were the ones who broadened the educational zone by making discoveries and using every possible means for their welfare.

Rich in culture, ancient Rome is still known for some bizarre ideas. Adult breastfeeding has a slot on this list. Historical researches tell us that ancient Rome has its due share in promoting adult breastfeeding.

Narratives from ancient Rome also mention adult breastfeeding, specifically in their medical writings. Well, we cannot say that this is something new to our knowledge, but it does support the idea that adult breastfeeding was common among Romans.

The idea of using breastmilk for medical purposes traveled from Egypt to Greece to Rome. Besides adult breastfeeding to cure diseases, Romans used breast milk in other preparations like ointments. Some Latin medical writings also tell us that Romans used breastfeeding to cure some serious wasting diseases.

Ancient Rome is known to adopt adult breastfeeding for various purposes. The major one involves medical use. There are also stories from ancient Rome telling us that some women used breastfeeding for sustenance for their incarcerated parents.

A Story from Ancient Rome Highlighting Adult Breastfeeding:

In the book Natural History, there is a story casting a Roman woman. Her mother was incarcerated for some capital offense and was not offered any kind of food in prison. Her daughter, who was in her postpartum period, was the only one allowed to visit her. The guards searched the daughter thoroughly before allowing her to visit.

The guards noticed that the older woman was in good health despite ban on food. It made the guards suspicious, and thorough investigations finally revealed that her daughter was feeding her mother her own breastmilk.

This incidence and many more historical events tell us that ancient Rome considered adult breastfeeding as a means of developing harmony. This practice was considered as important as feeding your young ones.

Ancient Rome’s Breastmilk Market:

Romans did take adult breastfeeding to a serious level. History and researches tell us that ancient Rome had marketplaces specified for the trading of breast milk. It tells us that adult breastfeeding was something important to the Romans. They gave importance to breastfeeding because they knew the advantages of breastfeeding for babies as well as for adults.

The term “columna lactaria” pops up when you search for ancient Rome’s adult breastfeeding history. This term specifically refers to a marketplace where adult breastfeeding was made safe.

Archeological studies have given strong proof of such places in history. Though it was a small area, the dealings that took place here were quite important.

All the people in search of breastmilk could find nursing women here. Wet nurse facilities were also made available at this place. Lactating women to breastfeed children or adults all gathered here for the people in need of them. Medical purposes were also fulfilled in these places.

Who Breastfed Hercules?

The importance of breastfeeding can be judged by the story of Hercules in Greek history. Zeus (the Greek God) has Hercules born with a mortal. That made Hercules half mortal and half God. Zeus worried his son wouldn’t have enough powers like his other children.

Hera was Zeus’s Goddess wife. Zeus had the idea that if she breastfed Hercules, he might gain some powers, so he put Hercules in Hera’s bed with other children.

This story tells the importance of breastmilk for your children and even for other people. Breastmilk is believed to deliver “powers.” In scientific words, by powers, we mean immunity, proteins, fats, and other nutrients that no other food can replace in any way possible.

Final Words:

Humans learned the art of breastfeeding millions of years ago. The benefits of breastmilk are no mystery to the world. Humans have learned that there is no alternative to natural breastmilk and that if you need nutrients, you must rent a wet nurse.

Adult breastfeeding is becoming common day by day. The purpose of this practice is debatable, but most people do it to gain strength and solve health issues. Roman admirers still follow their practices of adult breastfeeding to relieve emotional stress and cure certain illnesses.

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