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10 Breastfeeding Benefits for Mom

The process of creating life is a self-sustaining natural process. Female mammals have everything they need to tend to their young after birth. Picture a litter of kittens, a few hours old, rolling towards their mothers, eyes closed, nudging at her belly and looking for her nipples. They can find their source of food even before they can see it.

Human babies are the same. The smell of mom is familiar, and a baby can find the source of milk, latch on, and obtain all the nutrients it needs to survive outside the womb. Nursing allows for skin-to-skin contact, which can help with the mother-baby bond and can help baby thrive. Of course, nursing offers plenty of other benefits for mom, too.

Helps the Uterus Contract

Breastfeeding in the first hour after a baby’s birth helps the mother’s uterus contract. After birth, the mother’s contractions continue while her uterus shrinks back to its normal size. The contractions are stimulated in part by oxytocin, a hormone that is released when the mother breastfeeds and holds her baby skin-to-skin.

Helps Prevent Excessive Postpartum Bleeding

As the uterus contracts after delivery, it closes off the open blood vessels, restricting blood flow and slowing down the bleeding that naturally occurs after birth. Since breastfeeding increases the hormone that stimulates uterine contractions, it can help prevent excessive blood loss and postpartum hemorrhage.

Promotes Bonding between Mom and Baby

New mothers are often overwhelmed by the responsibilities of motherhood. Oxytocin is known as the “love hormone.” It helps promote bonding between mom and baby, which is important when mom is figuring out how to manage this new little life.

May Help Reduce Risk of Postpartum Depression

Breastfeeding can help prevent postpartum depression in many women. Women who do not breastfeed or who stop breastfeeding early are at a higher risk for postpartum depression. This may be due to the sharp drop in certain hormones that can occur after delivery. Breastfeeding maintains steadier hormone levels, helping them decrease more gradually.

Reduces the Risk of Breast and Ovarian Cancer

Breastfeeding can reduce the risk of breast cancer by more than 50 percent, especially for women with a family history of breast cancer. The risk of ovarian cancer is reduced as well, possibly because breastfeeding lowers the number of periods a woman has.

Helps Mother Relax

Not only does breastfeeding give mom the opportunity to sit or lie down and put her feet up, it stimulates the release of prolactin, a hormone that helps her relax and reduces stress.

Can Help Mother Lose the Baby Weight

It is recommended that mothers gain between 25 and 50 pounds during pregnancy. Much of this weight is lost shortly after delivery, but many mothers complain about extra baby weight. Breastfeeding can burn an additional 500 calories a day. This can help mothers lose the baby weight, especially in the early weeks, when they feel too tired to exercise.

Helps Mom Get More Sleep

Mothers who breastfeed may get more sleep than moms who don’t. When baby cries at night, getting up to make a bottle and sit with baby while baby eats can be draining. Many breastfeeding moms report that they don’t even notice how many times baby wakes at night.

Natural Birth Control

Although it’s certainly not 100 percent effective, breastfeeding can reduce the chances of getting pregnant soon after delivery. Breastfeeding delays ovulation, which means moms don’t have to deal with the hassle of getting their periods and may not have to worry about getting pregnant. Of course, they may not know once they do begin ovulating, so breastfeeding moms should still use another form of birth control if they don’t want another baby so soon.

Reduces the Risk of Osteoporosis

Breastfeeding can decrease the risk of hip fractures in women when they later reach the age of 60 years old or more. The longer a woman breastfeeds, the more the risk is reduced.

You’ve heard it before: Breast is best. Breastfeeding gives baby nutrients and immunity and helps mom and baby bond. But it helps make postpartum life easier for mom as well. Besides not having to hassle with expensive formula and bottles, it sets her up for better health later in life and reduces the stress of having a new baby.


 

Guest writer Carrie Atkins is a childbirth educator

This post was written by a guest writer for Prime Parents Club. We are not currently taking new guest writers.

1 Comment

  1. Melissa Davis - Breastfeeding Diet Advisor

    October 31, 2011 at 4:52 am

    Breastfeeding is certainly the most natural and also beneficial acts a mother is able to do for her baby. Significant health rewards have been proven to pass from mom to baby thru breastmilk. From antibodies which give protection to baby at beginning to the outstanding nutrients in mom’s milk which have been demonstrated to protect against numerous childhood diseases…the benefits are incalculable. There isn’t any other single action by which a mother can so influence the present and future health of her child. Yet, in our society, breastfeeding a baby is often looked at as unneeded. New moms are erroneously led to believe that formula feeding does really well as a replacement for breastmilk. It undoubtedly doesn’t! Absolutely nothing can duplicate the properties of breast milk, no matter how many nutritional vitamins, minerals and nutritional supplements are added onto what’s simply a chemical formula.