6 benefits of breastfeeding for mothers
Everyone talks about the benefits of breastfeeding for a baby, but did you know there are also a ton of benefits for the nursing mother?
It’s one of the best-kept secrets that all moms need to know about. Breastfeeding, whether exclusive or partial is not easy, so we’re highlighting some amazing benefits for nursing moms to help give them extra motivation to reach their goals.
Here are a few of the most incredible physical and emotional benefits of breastfeeding:
- Reduced risk of cancer. Research shows that women who breastfeed lower their risk of developing pre- and post-menopausal breast and ovarian cancer. According to the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, the longer a woman breastfeeds, the lower her risk of developing these cancers. Why? Since breastfeeding helps suppress ovulation, a woman’s lifetime exposure to hormones like estrogen is lessened, thereby lowering her chances of developing these cancers.
- Stronger bones. In the long run, breastfeeding protects against osteoporosis. Current studies have found that while it’s not uncommon for some women to lose a small amount of bone mass during lactation, bone density returns to pre-pregnancy or even higher levels within six months of weaning.
- Psychological benefits. Breastfeeding stimulates the release of certain hormones in both a mother and baby. Oxytocin, also known as the mothering hormone, helps relieve stress and fosters love, trust, and a strong emotional bond between a mother and baby. It’s also the key hormone responsible for milk letdown and helping your uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size. Cholecystokinin (CCK) is another hormone released during breastfeeding in both the mother and infant, which brings sedation and a feeling of satisfaction and well-being. The National Institute of Health reviewed several studies that concluded that breastfeeding reduces a mother’s risk of developing postpartum depression. If, however, a woman does have postpartum depression, she should seek treatment immediately, as many medications do not interfere with breastfeeding.
- Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. Breastfeeding reduces a woman’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes. For women who already have type 2 diabetes, breastfeeding improves insulin sensitivity, which can help reduce the severity of the illness. For women who developed gestational diabetes during pregnancy, breastfeeding lowers their risk of developing type 2 diabetes later if they exclusively breastfeed for at least three months. And while we’re on the topic, breastfeeding protects babies of diabetic mothers from developing diabetes. How amazing is that?
- More sleep. Yes, you read that correctly. Countless studies have found that parents of infants who are exclusively breastfed get more sleep than their mixed- or formula-feeding counterparts. Fresh breast milk is always available: no bottles, measurements or cleanup necessary, which can make a huge difference, especially in the middle of the night.
- Burns extra calories. Studies show that nursing women lose weight faster and more surely than women who formula feed. A woman’s body burns about 20 calories for every ounce of breast milk produced. Based on a mother’s milk supply, she can be burning up to 600 calories (or even more) per day.
These are just some of the wonderful benefits mothers can reap from their breastfeeding journey. As more research is conducted, the list of benefits for mothers, babies and the world will only grow.