7 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?
Breastfeeding your tot is one of the most wonderful bonding experiences a mama can have. While it may not always be easy at first, if you are lucky enough to be able to nurse without issues, you’ll enjoy plenty of skin-to-skin time with your baby and a real feeling of empowerment (you’re literally feeding your baby with your body – it’s pretty incredible!). And of course, you already know that your baby will benefit, too – from a reduced risk of sudden infant death syndrome to lowered risk of contracting illnesses like pneumonia and even diseases like diabetes later in life.
Of course, if you choose to bottle-feed, or cannot breastfeed, your baby will still be healthy and well, and so will you. It’s a personal choice that you should make based on your own knowledge, instinct and health. Whatever you decide to do, it’s fascinating to see that breastfeeding, as well as having benefits for your baby, also has important health impacts for you.
Here are a few of the most incredible physical and emotional benefits of breastfeeding.
7 Breastfeeding Benefits:
- Reduced rick of cancerResearch 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.
- Recover from birth more quickly
Giving birth is a major event – for your mind, your life, and of course, your body. Every woman needs some time to heal after birthing her baby, and breastfeeding can speed up that process. When you nurse, your body produces oxytocin, that helps your uterus contract, post-delivery blood loss. Breastfeeding also helps your uterus return to its normal size more quickly. If you bottle-feed, you can help quicken the process by laying your baby on your tummy, his feet pointed toward your belly button. Doctors say the motion of your tot’s feet pushing on your tummy can help the uterus contract.
- 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.
More on Breastfeeding
Lactation Consultant, Rebecca Agi, puts to rest common misconceptions about breastfeeding in her article on 10 breastfeeding myths debunked.
Many moms struggle with breastfeeding and are told that if they just try hard enough it will work out. Yet, sometimes, no matter what we do, it just doesn’t work out and we have to find another way to feed our baby. There are options and you aren’t alone. Health Coach Angela Watson Roberts discusses in her article on When breastfeeding doesn’t work out: The dos and don’ts.