Breastfeeding: Health Benefits for Mom
Breastfeeding provides a great deal of health benefits to babies, but not everyone realizes that it’s great for mom too. Not only can it save you money and time, it provides you with some health benefits as well.
Oxytocin to the Rescue
When a baby breastfeeds, your body produces the hormone oxytocin. This hormone helps the uterus contract and shrink back to its pre-pregnancy size, thus helping you get back to your pre-pregnancy shape. This process also helps decrease bleeding after birth and decreases the risk of hemorrhaging. Oxytocin can also help with mother-baby bonding, one of the reasons why it’s known as the “love hormone”.
Potential Weight Loss
Although nothing in this world can guarantee weight loss, breastfeeding can definitely help you shed the baby weight. Calories are being literally sucked right out of you!! It takes a significant amount of energy to produce milk, anywhere from 300-800 calories per day if you’re exclusively breastfeeding.
Decreased Risk of Cancer
Breastfeeding has been shown to decrease the risk of breast cancer. The longer you breastfeed for, the more protection against the disease there will be. There seems to be the most benefit when breastfeeding is done for more than two years over the mother's lifetime (for example, a mother with two children a few years apart breastfeeds both of her babies for one year each). No one is exactly sure why breastfeeding lowers the risk of breast cancer, but there are different theories. Breastfeeding women have less menstrual cycles, which means less exposure to estrogen which seems to promote certain types of breast cancers. Also, producing milk seems to make breast cells more resistant to mutations that cause cancer. Breastfeeding may also decrease the risk of uterine, ovarian and endometrium cancers.
Decreased Risk of Other Chronic Diseases
Breastfeeding improves bone density, decreasing the risk of osteoporosis and hip fractures later in life. It also helps control blood sugar levels, decreasing the risk of type 2 diabetes and decreasing insulin requirements for women that already have diabetes. There is some evidence that breastfeeding decreases the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease as well.