Breastfeeding: WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME??

No respectful woman asks the question out loud, certainly not pregnant women who want to feel they possess the selflessness required for motherhood! But it’s a great questionand one that has unfortunately been ignored by breastfeeding advocates. It’s a great question because there are GREAT answers. Important answers. Hugely significant answers!

The truth is– breastfeeding is as beneficial (if not more beneficial) for the mother as it is for the baby. I think most women would be shocked to know both the short and long-term rewards of breastfeeding that apply to them… and only them.

The short-term advantages to nursing are impressive:

1. Back in Shape. One of the most pressing concerns for many new mothers is how they are going to get their pre-pregnancy body back. Breastfeeding begins to address this goal immediately. Right after birth, when the baby suckles, the body releases the hormone Oxytocin, which in addition to releasing breast milk to the baby, also causes the uterus to contract. These contractions initiate uterine involution, or the return of the uterus to its normal size, which helps guard against postpartum hemorrhage and is the beginning of a return to a flat stomach.

Breastfeeding requires about 200 to 500 calories per day. These are calories burned just by the body’s metabolic processes associated with nursing. In order to get an equivalent calorie burn, a non-nursing mother would have to swim 30 laps or cycling uphill for an hour. Not too shabby! This is probably why studies show that nursing mothers lose more weight and keep the weight off better than non-nursing mothers.

2.Child Spacing.Breastfeeding delays the onset of menstruation. Where a non-nursing mother usually gets her period in six weeks, a mother who is nursing exclusively (without supplementation) can experience a delay of up to six months. For these mothers, the effectiveness of breastfeeding as a form of birth control is 90-98% effective for the first six months after a birth. This is a huge benefit compared to non-nursing mothers, who must start contraception within those six weeks of delivery.

3.Reduces Anemia Risk. Because breastfeeding mothers prolong the onset of their periods, they are at much lower risk of anemia. So for mothers who tend to be anemic or are left anemic due to the pregnancy, breastfeeding allows them to boost their blood iron by avoiding the monthly bleeding due to menstruation.

4 Helps Keep You Happy. Studies show that nursing mothers are less likely to exhibit postpartum anxiety or depression than non-nursing mothers. This may be attributable to the release of Prolactin, which is the milk-producing hormone that is also believed to have a calming effect on the mother.

If you are impressed by the short-term benefits of breastfeeding, the long-term rewards will bowl you over!

1. Reduces Diabetic Effects. For women who develop gestational diabetes, breastfeeding helps reduce their blood sugar levels after birth and the beneficial weight loss helps guard them against developing diabetes later in life. Women with Type I diabetes prior to pregnancy, require less insulin while they breastfed.

2. Heart Health. Nursing mothers tend to have more of the “good” cholesterol, HDL. Since they have lower blood sugars and better weight loss, their risk for heart problems is greatly reduced.

3. Reduces Risk of Osteoporosis. Though a mother’s calcium is utilized in the production of breast milk, thus drawing precious calcium away from her bones, studies show that women who nurse are able to regain their bond density and even improve it after weaning. Studies also show that non-nursing mothers are at four times the risk of developing osteoporosis and at higher risk for hip fractures later in life than mothers who breastfeed.

4. Reduces Risk of Cancer. Studies show that women who breastfed are at considerably lower risk for the reproductive cancers, both ovarian and uterine. In addition, women who breastfeed from six to twenty-four months throughout their reproductive years enjoy a reduction in breast cancer risk by 11 to 24%. Evidently, the longer the mother nurses, the greater the benefit.

So in essence, breast feeding helps you look better and feel better sooner after birth. It helps you sustain a healthy profile for better vitality throughout your life. And significantly guards you against three of the top diseases affecting women—female cancers, heart disease and osteoporosis. If a doctor gave you a formula for health that offered these kinds of guarantees, wouldn’t you jump right on it? It’s lovely to know that the breastfeeding choice offers mothers their own quality of life advantages.

Oh, yes…and it’s good for the baby, too!

Also see:

A Well-Kept Secret: Breastfeeding’s Benefits to Mother, Alicia Dermer, MD, IBCLC, Old Bridge NJ USA(NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 18 No. 4, July-August 2001, p. 124-127) (
© Gina Carroll
Check out this site…I love the beautiful things for Mom and baby…

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