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June 10, 2021
By Andrea Tran RN, BS, MA, IBCLC
Breastfeeding is not just good for babies. A mom who breastfeeds is also investing in her own health. New health benefits of breastfeeding for both mom and baby are being discovered all the time. Research currently supports many physical and mental health benefits for breastfeeding for mothers.
There is a positive effect of breastfeeding on several parts of your body.
Women who breastfeed have lower rates of certain types of cancer.
The hormones from nursing can delay ovulation and so breastfeeding can be used as a form of birth control to prevent pregnancy. Because a woman can get pregnant before she resumes her periods, she should not count on breastfeeding alone as birth control. Its effectiveness will be increased if it is used in combination with fertility awareness methods.
Breastfeeding not only has a positive effect on your physical health but your mental health as well.
Breastfeeding mothers sleep an average of 45 minutes more a day compared to moms who don't nurse.
Breastfeeding mothers get more sleep because the hormone melatonin is released at night when you breastfeed, which sends your body a signal to slow down and relax. The hormones released during nursing – prolactin, oxytocin, and endorphins - all promote sleepiness.
Postpartum weight loss has been a popular benefit of nursing. On average, breastfeeding burns an impressive 500 calories a day.
The effect of breastfeeding on a woman's weight is variable, but it does help some women lose. Breastfeeding burns a lot of calories. However, the number of calories a woman consumes and her physical activity level will have a significant impact on her rate of weight loss.
Many women choose to breastfeed because they know it is so valuable to their baby. However, you can be confident that breastfeeding is also good for you. The health benefits you get from it are both short-term and long-term.
Duan, X., Wang, J., & Jiang, X. (2017). A meta-analysis of breastfeeding and osteoporotic fracture risk in the females. Osteoporosis International, 28(2), 495-503.
Mikšić, Š., Uglešić, B., Jakab, J., Holik, D., Milostić Srb, A., & Degmečić, D. (2020). Positive Effect of Breastfeeding on Child Development, Anxiety, and Postpartum Depression. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(8), 2725.
Kendall-Tackett, K., Cong, Z., & Hale, T. W. (2011). The effect of feeding method on sleep duration, maternal well-being, and postpartum depression. Clinical Lactation, 2(2), 22-26.
Jordan, S. J., Na, R., Johnatty, S. E., Wise, L. A., Adami, H. O., Brinton, L. A., ... & Webb, P. M. (2017). Breastfeeding and endometrial cancer risk: an analysis from the epidemiology of endometrial cancer consortium. Obstetrics and gynecology, 129(6), 1059.
Jarlenski, M. P., Bennett, W. L., Bleich, S. N., Barry, C. L., & Stuart, E. A. (2014). Effects of breastfeeding on postpartum weight loss among US women. Preventive medicine, 69, 146-150.
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