Breastfeeding Factoids

This page is dedicated to unusual breast and breastfeeding factoids. Did you know that:

breastfeeding factoidsThere is a cloud formation called Mammatus and it looks like breasts hanging down from the sky. The word mammatus comes from the Latin word “mamma”, which means “breast”. If you see mammatus clouds in the sky, it usually means that there is a big storm coming. Read more here and another great picture here

breastfeeding and champagne glassLegend has it that the champagne glass is a mold of a French aristocrat’s breasts. The shape of the champagne glass (not the champagne flute) may be from the breasts of Marie Antoinette (wife of Louis XVI), Josephine de Beauharnais (wife of Napoleon Bonaparte), or Madame de Pompadour (mistress of King Louis XV). No one really knows if this is true or not, but you can read more about this factoid here and here.

breastfeeding Hera and HerculesThe word “galaxy” comes from the Greek word “gala” which means “milk”. In Greek mythology, the Milky Way was created when a spray of milk came out of Hera’s breast (wife of Zeus) as she was breastfeeding Hercules (one of Zeus’ many illegitimate sons). This 16th century painting by Jacopo Tintoretto shows Zeus bringing Hercules to Hera’s breast. Another version by Peter Rubens can be seen here.

breastfeeding Pero and CimonDuring ancient Roman times, it is said that a daughter (Pero) secretly breastfed her elderly father (Cimon) while he was in jail. He was imprisoned and sentenced to die by starvation but Pero’s breast milk sustained him. Later, Cimon was released because of Pero’s unconditional love & devotion towards her father. This act of “Roman Charity” has been represented in 16th and 17th century paintings, sculptures, and engravings. Painting by Dirck van Baburen; more images here.

Probably the most often depicted breastfeeding-mother is the Virgin Mary breastfeeding baby Jesus. In fact, the oldest known image of the Virgin Mary is found in the Catacomb of Priscilla in Rome. In this wall painting, Mary is breastfeeding baby Jesus. See it here.

breastfeeding Madonna

In addition to breastfeeding baby Jesus, the Virgin Mary has been depicted in other paintings where she is squirting milk out of her breasts.

In this painting, Saint Bernard prays to the Virgin Mary and asks her to “Show that you are a mother” (Monstra te esse matrem) at which point, the statue comes alive and squirts milk into Saint Bernard’s mouth. This painting is sometimes called the “Miracle of Lactation” but there are many versions which you can see here, here, or here.

breastfeeding Virgin Mary

This images shows the Virgin Mary squirting breast milk to the souls in purgatory. The souls who receive her milk are cleansed and ascend to heaven. The painting, by Pedro Machua, is called “La Virgen dando su leche a las almas del purgatorio” and can be seen here.

In modern times, breast milk is used to sooth/cure sore and cracked nipples. However, in days of old, breast milk was used to cure various ailments including ear infections, eye infections, and minor cuts and scrapes.

Breast milk has antibodies so it is very possible that the antibodies cure illnesses by preventing the growth of germs & bacteria. This article explains how some doctors are switching from antibiotic eye drops to Mother’s Milk drops to treat infections.

If breast milk can sooth/cure a cracked nipple, it is highly possible that it can facilitate the healing of minor cuts and scrapes too.

There are a few references of the Virgin Mary squirting breast milk into people’s eyes to cure them of conjunctivitis (an eye infection commonly called “pink eye”). In some rural regions of Africa, breast milk is used to treat snake bites.

Do you know of any other breast and breastfeeding factoids? Let us know.