Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mothers
Breastfeeding provides a number of benefits for babies, as well as short and long-term benefits specific to the health and longevity of mothers. They aren’t discussed often, but they are vast.
The act of breastfeeding can produce psychological, physical, and practical benefits for mothers.
Health Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mothers
The journal Obstetrics and Gynecology released research that revealed women who breastfeed their babies for more than a year can decrease their own risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Additionally, breastfeeding mothers have a decreased risk of anemia, and, contrary to popular belief, increased calcium levels equal to or greater than before beginning to breastfeed.
The Natural Resources Defense Council, cites that mothers who breastfeed experienced greater weight loss, are less likely to develop osteoporosis, and have a decreased risk of breast, uterine and ovarian cancers. Additionally, women who lactate for a total of two or more years decrease their risk of breast cancer by up to 24 percent.
Weight Loss and Mood-Boosting
Benefits in weight loss and mood boosting occur due to oxytocin being released from the mother’s pituitary gland as the baby suckles during breastfeeding. The oxytocin hormone signals the breasts to release milk, which produces contractions in the uterus. These contractions help to prevent postpartum hemorrhaging, while at the same time promoting weight-loss as the uterus returns to its pre-pregnancy state.
Psychological Effect of Breastfeeding
A mother’s emotional health can benefit from the relationship she has with her baby while breastfeeding. This connection can result in lessened anxiety, and a stronger connection with her baby.
Additionally, breastfeeding can decrease a mother’s risk of acquiring postpartum depression. As evidence of this, The National Institutes of Health reviewed over 9,000 study abstracts comparing the correlation between breastfeeding and postpartum depression. The test revealed mothers who did not breastfeed, or those who halted breastfeeding before six months, had an increased risk of postpartum depression.
Practical Benefits of Breastfeeding
The convenience of breastfeeding can add flexibility to a mother’s schedule, and provide a timesaving solution when traveling or working outside of the home, resulting in less stress for new mothers.
Financially, on average, mothers who breastfeed their babies save $1,500 per year in feeding expenses, and over $1,000 on average in healthcare costs. Additionally, according to WomensHealth.gov, breastfeeding mothers miss fewer days of work.
Other benefits of breastfeeding include:
- Natural contraceptive for the first six months of breastfeeding (98 to 99 percent accuracy)
- Menstrual cycle delays up to several months
- Reduced risk of certain cancers
- Lessened diabetic symptoms (if the condition existed pre-pregnancy)
- Decreased risk of heart attack and stroke
- Decreased risk of rheumatoid arthritis
- Lower blood pressure
- Decreased risk of heart disease
- Decreased risk of hip fractures after menopause
The benefits of breastfeeding go beyond that of solely benefiting a baby. The positive short-term and long-term affects of breastfeeding for mothers are evident, lasting, and should be considered as additional reasons to choose to breastfeed.