Breastfeeding is the best way to nourish your baby, but did you know that there are also a lot of breastfeeding benefits for mom (and the world) too?
It’s such a beautiful thing that while nourishing baby (and doing that very well, indeed), mom gets a lot of benefits as well.
The benefits of breastfeeding for babies are many, but following is an equally impressive list of ways that will certainly encourage mom to keep nursing her littles as long as possible.
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25+ Breastfeeding Benefits for Mom
Breastfeeding Saves Time
The last thing I had time to do when I had a nursling around was to spend time sterilizing and preparing bottles. Mom’s milk is always the best temperature, and the package is always “ready”.
Breastfeeding Tightens the Uterus After Childbirth
Breastfeeding soon and often after childbirth helps the uterus contract, expelling the placenta and preventing the loss of blood that sometimes happens after childbirth. (source)
“The uterus of non-breastfeeding mothers will never shrink back. It will always remain slightly enlarged” (Chua S, Arulkumaran S, Lim I et al. “Influence of breastfeeding and nipple stimulation on postpartum uterine activity.” Br J Obstet Gynaecol 1994; 101:804-805).
Women who breastfed appear to have better cognitive performance later in life. Note that it’s possible, based on the study’s parameters (interviewing women after age 50), that those benefits extend throughout the whole life. (source)
One study showed that moms who breastfeed have better sleep quality than moms who use formula. (source). Yet another showed that breastfeeding women slept an average of 2.6 hours more per day in the early months after giving birth (source)
Breastfeeding Saves Money
Even if mom eats a nutrient dense diet and eats more food to generate the breastmilk, it’s far cheaper than buying expensive baby formula. (source)
There are some who argue that breastfeeding costs more money due to supplies and supplementation and eating more food, but I disagree with that claim.
First of all, if a woman is eating well, she might not have to supplement. Second, supplies aren’t needed really unless pumping.
These studies claim that people living under the poverty limit can’t afford the supplies. A lot of them are available at low cost or even free (I’m in groups where women gladly gift their used breastfeeding supplies to moms in need).
And if a woman is living at home, she quite often doesn’t need to pump. I nursed 2 babies and never pumped once.
Plus, all or a lot of these supplies can be bought once and used for multiple children.
Saves Money on Menstrual Products
For most breastfeeding moms, breastfeeding, especially on-demand, will keep the menstrual cycle at bay for quite awhile.
Note that mom’s menstrual cycle is more likely to return when baby stops nursing through the night. (source)
Helps Mom Lose Postpartum Weight
Breastfeeding requires the use of 200 to 500 calories per day, on average–the equivalent of swimming at least 30 laps in a pool or bicycle uphill for an hour. Studies confirm breastfeeding moms lose more weight and keep it off better than non-breastfeeding moms. (source)
Reduces Risk of Osteoporosis in Mother
Since women lose calcium while breastfeeding, many believe that breastfeeding moms have a higher risk of osteoporosis than other moms. Studies show, however, that after weaning breastfeeding mothers’ bone density returns to prepregnancy or higher levels (Sowers 1995). Lactation may even result in stronger bones and a reduced risk of osteoporosis in the longterm. In fact, recent studies confirmed non-breastfeeding women have a higher risk of hip fractures after menopause (Cummings 1993). (source)
Less Postpartum Iron Loss for Mother
Breastfeeding causes some iron loss, but less is lost in breastfeeding than with the menstrual cycle that will return more quickly in the non-breastfeeding mother. “The longer the mother nurses and keeps her periods at bay, the stronger this effect (Institute of Medicine 1991). (source)
An “Easy Out” of Uncomfortable Situations
Have you ever just needed to get away from a not so great situation? Saying “I need to go nurse my baby” can really come in handy.
Good For the Environment
Breastfeeding means no formula cans or other packaging to add to landfills.
Helps Mom Rest
Sometimes breastfeeding moms tote their child in a sling while nursing, but it does require a bit of extra skill to do so.
Most of the time nursing moms are forced to get much needed rest several (or more) times per day. In this crazy world, having a baby force you to sit or lie down, is a good thing, especially in the early weeks after giving birth.
Helps You Bond with Baby
Due to the combination of skin to skin contact, plus more and longer eye contact and faster responses (able to nurse faster than it takes to get a bottle ready), mothers who breastfeed have a closer bond to baby. (source)
Better Bone Health
In a two-year study, moms who breastfed were shown to have healthier bones. Specifically, though there was more bone loss initially, there was bone remodeling later in areas prone to fracture (hip, wrist, spine). This remodeling took place within two years of delivery. (source)
More Peace in the Home
The milk-making hormone, prolactin, seems to produce calmness in mothers. Breastfeeding mothers have been shown to have a reduction in the intensity of their response to adrenaline (Altemus 1995). (source)
Breastfeeding Contributes to Adrenal Health
I am making this assumption based on the above study, but if breastfeeding has a beneficial effect on the stress response, then the mother’s adrenal health should be better. (source)
Prevents Post-Partum Hemorrhaging
Nursing releases oxytocin which cuts off the maternal blood supply and discourages excessive bleeding. Non-breastfeeding mothers need to be given oxytocin instead. (source)
You Can Travel More Lightly
Breastfeeding means no carrying around bottles and packages of formula. You just need you, and perhaps a good coverup and a burp pad.
More Appropriate Perception of Women’s Bodies
I think as breastfeeding becomes more prevalent, society is forced to see women’s breasts as being a functional and crucial part of babies’ health, and not just as a sexual object.
Am I the only one who is shocked at how super-scantily clad women are accepted in our culture, but breastfeeding is often considered to be indecent?
Breastmilk Seems to Contribute to Better Heart Health
Women who breastfed seem to have a lower incidence of heart disease than those who did not. Breastfeeding apparently results in:
- 17% lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease
- 14% reduced risk of coronary heart disease
- 12% reduced risk of stroke (source)
Breastfeeding can prevent diabetes in the mother since it helps your body process insulin and glucose better. (source)
Prevents Metabolic Disease
Breastfeeding helps with the distribution of fat and helps prevent the onset of metabolic disease in the mother. (source)
Reduced Risk of Breast Cancer
The risk of breast cancer is reduced by 4.3% for every year of breastfeeding, which is on top of the reduction of 7% for each birth. (source)
Demonstrates the Uniqueness of Women
Yes, a dad can feed his little one a bottle, but God made women special. Only they can give birth, and only they can nurse at the breast.
Fewer Spit Ups On Clothing
Since breastmilk is easier for babies to digest, you are less likely to get covered with spit-up.
Breastmilk Not Subject to Recalls
Ever seen those flyers up at your local store recalling formula? Those are totally not a problem for the breastfeeding mom.
Did you know about these benefits or were they a surprise to you?