We see so much in the news, on blogs, and on social media about the benefits of breastfeeding for baby– for good reason, breastfeeding is GREAT for babies! But did you know that research shows that breastfeeding also provides long-term health benefits for moms too? Here are my three top reasons that breastfeeding benefits mom’s health:
3 Amazing Breastfeeding Benefits for Moms
- Breastfeeding improves the overall health of women. When a mother breastfeeds, she is reducing her risk of reproductive cancers as well as other common health problems. A great way to decrease your lifetime risk of developing breast cancer is to breastfeed (1). Breastfeeding also reduces your risk of ovarian cancer. The longer you breastfeed, in fact, the greater reduction in your risk. Other health issue risks reduced by breastfeeding are hypertension and heart attack. (2)
- Breastfeeding moms get more sleep. It may seem counterintuitive if you’re a tired mama waking often to nurse your little one back to sleep, but it’s true! Multiple studies have found that exclusive breastfeeding moms sleep more hours, are healthier physically, and have more energy than formula feeding mothers. What an amazing breastfeeding benefit that we all need! (3, 3a)
- Longer duration before fertility returns, but more thorough return to pre-pregnant state: Did you know that a mom’s uterus returns to its pre-pregnant size much faster if the mom is breastfeeding? Weight loss can vary among breastfeeding moms, but mom’s uterus size going back to normal is definitely influenced by breastfeeding (4). Also, breastfeeding is much more likely to keep your period away after birth. Exclusive breastfeeding–following baby’s lead day and night–can prevent your menstrual cycle from returning for a time and even be used as a reliable form of birth control for up to six months as long as you don’t have any vaginal bleeding in that time period (5). If this sounds like an option for you, you can discuss natural family planning methods with your healthcare provider.
Breastfeeding can seem overwhelming sometimes and it’s hard as a mama to be on-call 24/7 for your little one, but reviewing the benefits for not just baby but also for you can be a great motivator when the going gets tough. What breastfeeding benefit has been most impactful for you as a mom? I’d love to hear in the comments.
For more info on breastfeeding benefits for both mom and baby, check out our Confident Breastfeeding Course!
Thanks for stopping by,
Lindsey Shipley, RN, IBCLC
(1) Newcomb, P.A., Storer, B.E., Longnecker, M.P., et al. (1994). Lactation and a reduced risk of premenopausal breast cancer. New England Journal of Medicine. 330:81-87.
(2) Schwarz, E. B., Ray, R. M., Stuebe, A. M., Allison, M. A., Ness, R. B., Freiberg, M. S., & Cauley, J. A. (2009). Duration of Lactation and Risk Factors for Maternal Cardiovascular Disease. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 113(5), 974–982. http://doi.org/10.1097/01.AOG.0000346884.67796.ca
(3) 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.
(3a) Doan, T., Gardiner, A., Gay, C.L., Lee, K.A. (2007). Breastfeeding increases sleep duration of new parents. Journal of perinatal and neonatal nursing 21(3), 200-206.
(4) Negishi, H., Kishida, T., Yamada, H., Hirayama, E., Mikuni, M., Fujimoto, S. (1999). Changes in uterine size after vaginal delivery and cesarean section determined by vaginal sonography in the puerperium. Archives of gynecology and obstetrics 263(1-2), pp. 13-16.
(5) Riordan, J. & Wambach, K. (2010). Fertility, sexuality, and contraception during lactation. In Breastfeeding and human lactation (4th ed., p. 705-736). Boston, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.
Bartick, M.C., Schwarz, E.B., Green, B.D., Jegier, B.J., Reinhold, A.G., Colaizy, T.T., Bogen, D.L., Schaefer, A.J., and Steube, A.M. (2016). Suboptimal Breastfeeding in the United States: Maternal and Pediatric Health Outcomes and Costs. Maternal and Child Nutrition, doi: 10.1111/mcn.12366. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/mcn.12366/full.