The value of breastfeeding in supporting the normal growth and development of infants and young children is recognized worldwide [1]. There is also a growing awareness that it is possible for women to breastfeed their adopted children, and that health care professionals should support them if they express a desire to do so [2]. However, both professional and lay literature are often unclear as to why adoptive breastfeeding may be of benefit. The ability of adoptive mothers to successfully relactate/ induce lactation is regularly questioned in literature [3-5], in spite of evidence that most adoptive mothers are physiologically capable of producing sufficient milk for their child [6]. In addition, discussion of the benefits of adoptive breastfeeding uniformly lacks detail on how breastfeeding may assist the child or mother [3-5,7]. Thus,adopted children. Four case histories of adoptive breastfeeding will also be presented.

Non-nutritional aspects of breastfeeding
The positive impact of breastmilk on the growth and development of babies is widely accepted [8]. However, breastfeeding is more than just the provision of nutrition; the act of suckling at the breast has an impact on both child and mother. Breastfeeding calms and provides analgesia to infants, as evidenced in reduced heart and metabolic rates and a reduced ability to perceive pain during suckling [9-11]. There are several reasons for this calming and analgesic effect. Firstly, suckling at the breast stimulates the infant's oropharyngeal tactile- and mechanoreceptors and focuses attention on the mouth, reducing outside influences [12,13]. Secondly, suckling and intestinal adsorption of fat from milk stimulates the release of the hormone cholecystokinin [14,15], which activates an afferent vagal mechanism that induces relaxation and pain relief [16]. Thirdly, the sweet flavour of milk stimulates the release of opioids in the midbrain of infants, which act on receptors that decrease the perception of pain [10,17-19]. Fourthly, breastfeeding involves maternal skin-to-skin contact, which stabilises blood glucose levels [20], body temperature and respiration rates [20-22], aids neurobehavioral self-regulation [23] and also reduces stress hormone release [24] and blood pressure [25]. Finally, breastfeeding involves intimate social interaction between mother and child, which may result in the release of the anti-stress hormone oxytocin [26,27]. These mechanisms of relaxation and analgesia work synergistically [28,29] and while research has thus far focused on newborns, the experience of mothers is that the calming, analgesic and relaxing effects of breastfeeding remain for as long as breastfeeding occurs [30].

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