Breast Feeding Benefits Moms, Not Just Babies

breast feeding benefits

It’s commonly understood for literally hundreds of years that breast-feeding provides a large number of health benefits to babies, ranging from improved growth and development, both physically and mentally, to increased resistance to infection and disease.

As recent as two days ago, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released an updated policy statement reaffirming its stance that breast milk is the single most complete nutritional source for infants.

The American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement also included a collection of clinical evidence concluding that the health benefits associated with breast feeding are not just for babies, but for mothers as well.

Short-Term Benefits of Breast-Feeding for Mothers

The maternal benefits of breast-feeding begin almost immediately after birth, as women who breast-feed typically have less post-birth blood loss than women who don’t. The uterus of a breast-feeding mother also returns to its normal size more quickly, according to evidence collected by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The short-term benefits of breast-feeding for postpartum women go beyond physical health, as well. In fact, a 2003 Australian study indicated that women who breast-fed their babies were less likely to experience postpartum depression. The risk of postpartum depression further decreased when women breast-fed their babies for longer rather than weaning them early. A 2009 Canadian study and a 2011 Japanese study confirmed this finding.

Long-Term Breast Feeding Benefits for Mothers

The long-term breast feeding benefits are even more pronounced than the short-term benefits. Many mothers are concerned about returning to their normal weight after pregnancy, and studies have shown that breast feeding assists in this. Although these studies can sometimes be tainted by factors such as diet and exercise, a study involving 14,000 new mothers found that women who didn’t breast-feed had more difficulty returning to pre-pregnancy weight than women who breast-fed for six months.

Other studies have detected a link between breast-feeding and a reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes. If you develop gestational diabetes, you may be up to 12% less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes for every year you breast-feed.

The total amount of time you spend breast-feeding impacts your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis as well. According to the Nurses’ Health Study, women who breast-feed for 12 months are 20% less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis, while women who breast-feed for 24 months are 50% less likely to develop the same.

Breast-Feeding Reduces Risk of Cancer and Heart Disease

A 2009 University of Pittsburgh study involving almost 140,000 women demonstrated an important link between breast-feeding and cardiovascular health. In the study, women who breast-fed were found to be less susceptible to heart disease (10% reduction), hypertension (11% reduction) and excessive fatty acids in the blood (19% reduction).

In the same study, it was found that women who breast-fed for more than 12 months enjoyed a 28% reduction in their risk of developing ovarian cancer and breast cancer.

American Academy of Pediatrics’ Breast-Feeding Recommendations

According to the AAP, babies should receive breast milk exclusively until 6 months, and a combination of breast milk and other foods until 12 months at a minimum.

The AAP also warned that breast-feeding is a bad idea under some circumstances, such as when the baby has galactosemia (a metabolic disorder), or when the mother is using certain medications or has HIV, herpes or certain other diseases.

Breast Feeding Benefits: The Bottom Line

Breast-feeding offers a range of benefits not just for babies, but for mothers as well. Moms who breast-feed are less likely to develop certain types of diseases such as cancer, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. They’re also less susceptible to postpartum depression, and typically have an easier time returning to their pre-pregnancy weight.

2 Responses to Breast Feeding Benefits Moms, Not Just Babies

  1. egcwspxqwf says:

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  2. tbhmepmpjj says:

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