6 Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mothers

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Human milk is amazing. As a researcher, I am fascinated by all of the components of human milk and how they can positively impact the development of a child. I love to learn about how breastfeeding helps with infant mental development and encourages secure bonding between the mother and that child. I absolutely LOVE the stories about donor milk & milk sharing between mothers. But what often gets missed when disseminating information about breastfeeding is that is also has important health benefits for the mother who decides to breastfeed.

1. Reduced risk of breast cancer

For every 12 months of cumulative breastfeeding, the risk of developing breast cancer is reduced by 4.3%.

2. Reduced risk of ovarian cancer

Breastfeeding for 6 months has been shown to reduce risk of ovarian cancer by 17%; breastfeeding for 6-12 months has been shown to reduce risk by 25%.

3. Reduced risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes

One year of cumulative breastfeeding is associated with a 9% reduction in risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

4. Reduced risk of developing cardiovascular disease

One year or more of cumulative breastfeeding has been associated with decreased rates of hypertension, hyperlipidemia, diabetes, or cardiovascular disease.

5. Family planning

Breastfeeding can delay the return of a mothers menstrual cycle. If the menses has not returned, the baby is being breastfed exclusively at the breast, and the baby is less than 6 months old, there is only a 1-2% chance of pregnancy.

6. Weight loss

Creating milk is a very metabolically demanding process - mother's who breastfeed burn an estimated 480 calories above their basal metabolic rate per day! Additionally, fat stored during pregnancy is mobilized to create milk. Paired with a balanced diet, women can see changes in body composition and weight status during lactation.

References

  1. Chowdhury R, Sinha B, Sankar MJ, et al. Breastfeeding and maternal health outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Acta Paediatr. 2015;104(S467):96-113.
  2. Aune D, Norat T, Romundstad P, Vatten LJ. Breastfeeding and the maternal risk of type 2 diabetes: a systeamtic review and dose-response meta-analysis of cohort studies. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2014; 24(2):107-115.
  3. Butte NF, Hopkinson JM, Mehta N, Moon JK, Smith EO. Adjustments in energy expenditure and substrate utilization during late pregnancy and lactation. Am J Clin Nutr 1999;69:299–307.