Breastfeeding Benefits for Mom

Picture of Mind Body Baby
Mind Body Baby

Samantha Kauffman
RNC, IBCLC, CCE, CIME
Childbirth World
Mind Body Baby Preferred Provider and Guest Blogger

** Mind Body Baby recognizes that breastfeeding/breastmilk is one choice. We support parental mental health and a fed baby. We recognize this may not be the/a choice for your family. This post highlights the benefits should one choose this path and should not be interpreted as shaming or discouraging parents who formula feed. **

Breastfeeding is great for baby, but what are the benefits for mom?

Conversations about breastfeeding often center on health benefits to new babies. But what about the benefits to mom? 

We’re learning new and exciting things about breastfeeding all the time with scientific studies, medical reports, personal experiences and such. There’s even evidence that social media has spread awareness about the benefits of breastfeeding.

Here’s a few of the unique ways moms can benefit from breastfeeding.

Cost-effective baby food

When you do the math, it’s not hard to appreciate the financial advantages of breastfeeding. You can save upward of $1,000.00/yr. [Added to clarify that while breastfeeding has a monetary offset of cost, it is not “free” of time, commitment, mental and emotional space.]

Bonding opportunity

When mom breastfeeds, she releases the hormone oxytocin.

A World Health Organization study’s: “Oxytocin also has important psychological effects, and is known to affect mothering behavior in animals. In humans, oxytocin induces a state of calm, and reduces stress. It may enhance feelings of affection between mother and child, and promote bonding.”

It’s also worth noting that breastfeeding makes you sit down, relax and focus on your baby, which can be a calming interaction.

Reduced cancer risk

Researchers are beginning to pinpoint exactly how breastfeeding may lower a mom’s risk for breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

A study by the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health found an increased risk of certain types of breast cancer in women who do not breastfeed.

The study, involving women from the U.S., Canada and Australia, found that women who did not breastfeed had about 1.5 times the risk of developing these types of cancer.

“If women breastfed their children, there was no increased risk for ER/PR-negative cancer,” said Meghan Work, an author of the study. “This is particularly important as breastfeeding is a modifiable factor that can be promoted and supported through health policy.”

A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that prolonged breastfeeding could reduce the risk of ovarian cancer.

Diabetes-fighter

Breastfeeding may also lower a mom’s risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

A study in California, which followed more than 1,000 moms who experienced gestational diabetes, found that “women who exclusively breastfed or mostly breastfed were about half as likely to develop Type 2 diabetes as those who didn’t breastfeed.”

Combat Alzheimer’s

I’ve already written about this topic in the past, but I’ll mention it again here: There is evidence that breastfeeding moms may face a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease later in life.

A University of Oxford study found that longer duration of breastfeeding corresponded to a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

“Women who breastfed had lower (Alzheimer’s) risk than women who did not breastfeed,” the study noted.

Turning the focus to babies for a moment: If you were breastfed as a baby, it could positively impact your cholesterol. One study that followed premature babies to their early teens found they had lower cholesterol levels when compared to formula-fed babies.

New studies like these emerge every day, which only strengthens the favorability of breastfeeding over formula, if this is possible, for the new mom.

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