Breast milk is the best way to nourish and protect your baby, no doubt. But did you know – it also brings a host of benefits for you!
Health benefits to mothers who breastfeed are many, including reduced risk of certain cancers. If you have breast-fed your baby continuously for at least a year, here’s how you stand to gain:
Protection Against Cancer
The longer you have breast-fed your baby, the better your chances of protection against cancer of the breast, ovaries and endometrium.
Women who have breastfed have a different hormonal set-up than women who have not. The low estrogen level during breastfeeding is the protective factor, and the mother’s age at first full-term pregnancy has the strongest influence on reducing the risk. If lactation occurs in early reproductive life, the effect is greatest. Medical studies have revealed that there is a 60 percent reduction in the risk of ovarian cancer among women who have breastfed.
Steady Weight Loss
Mothers who breastfeed slim down faster than mothers who do not!
Breastfeeding requires an average of 500 extra calories per day and breastfeeding mothers who eat a normal diet can lose the extra weight they gained during pregnancy faster than moms who bottle feed. Women who were overweight when they began their pregnancies can also reach their ideal weight by breastfeeding in conjunction with a moderate exercise program.
Nursing will help you to regain your figure more quickly, as lactation causes the uterus (which has increased during pregnancy to about 20 times its normal size) to shrink more quickly to its pre-pregnancy size. The uterus of the non-breastfeeding mother will never shrink back to its pre-pregnant size. It will always remain slightly enlarged.
Reduced Risk Of Osteoporosis
Yes, breastfeeding can actually protect you from bone loss, much later in life!
Most nursing mothers may experience a decrease in bone mineral by one to two percent. But this is gained back, and bone mineral density may actually increase, when the baby is weaned from the breast – irrespective of additional calcium supplementation in the mother’s diet.
Lactational amenorrhea – the absence of menstruation due to breastfeeding – is nature’s own method of contraception!
Many breastfeeding moms do not begin to menstruate again until 14 or more months after giving birth. As baby suckles, nerve impulses travel through your body and are received by your brain. This signals the production of a hormone called prolactin, which inhibits the reproductive hormones. As a result, ovulation does not occur and menstruation stops, making it almost impossible to become pregnant. Though not totally fool-proof, breastfeeding works as a natural way of spacing out pregnancies.
There is nothing more amazing than looking at a healthy, active child and knowing that the only nutrition your little one received was from your own body!
And, not only is breastfeeding good for the mother’s body, its good for the mother’s emotional wellbeing too! Studies prove that breastfeeding mothers experience lesser post-partum anxiety and depression than formula-feeding mothers.