Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mom

Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mom

One of the most common reasons for maternal death and admission to the Intensive Care Unit after birth is postpartum hemorrhage (extensive internal bleeding). However, breastfeeding early and often after birth (ideally, we should start within the first half-hour after delivery) can prevent it. When we place the baby at the breast, our body reacts with several hormonal changes, as well as mild uterine contractions. Baby’s presence near the nipple and the effect of suckling stimulates a release of oxytocin hormone in our system (known as the “love” hormone). This hormone is responsible for the wave of milk (“letdown”) that the baby will receive and the uterus contraction. This process prevents postpartum hemorrhage and helps the uterus return to its natural shape!

Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mother and Child

  • Reduces risk of ovarian, uterine, and breast cancers: The research shows that the longer the mother breastfeeds, the longer her protection from these female cancers is throughout her life!
  • Helps lose weight: A breastfeeding mother spends around 500 calories a day nursing her baby, which equals running 10 km or doing 30 laps in a swimming pool a day! (When my husband knew of this fact, he was pretty disappointed men cannot breastfeed. He had to go to the gym every day, and I still was losing weight much faster than he was! And by the time my daughter was six months old, my body “melted away” all the 26 kg of extra pregnancy weight I acquired before birth!
  • Decreases risk of osteoporosis: Recent studies show that long-term breastfeeding results in better bone density and reduced risk of osteoporosis (contrary to what we usually hear). Women who breastfeed have a much lower risk of hip fractures after menopause.
  • Helps delay subsequent pregnancy: Even though in Lebanon everyone encourages us not to wait too long before getting pregnant again, World Health Association points out that getting pregnant within the first six months after birth is associated with a risk of maternal death during labor, while getting pregnant between 6 to 12 months often results in low-birth-weight and premature babies. Breastfeeding helps us delay our menstruation, which in return delays the “restart” of our reproductive cycles. While bottle-feeding mothers usually get their periods within 6-8 weeks after birth, exclusively breastfeeding moms usually will not have her cycle back at least for several months (and sometimes as long as she breastfeeds for up to a year or longer).
  • Reduces blood sugar level: Breastfeeding mothers have lower blood sugar levels, and even if they already had Type I diabetes before pregnancy, they would need much less insulin while lactating. For other women breastfeeding will reduce the risk of diabetes later in life.
  • Creates a solid emotional bond with the baby: Every time we put the baby to the breast, we give him a “full-body hug” and establish eye contact, which builds a strong connection between the baby and us. And what a magical memory it is to see your baby gaze at you while nursing and then releasing the breast and giving you a big smile!
  • Protects mother from iron-deficiency anemia: We lose an enormous amount of iron through our monthly periods, and because breastfeeding delays the return of our menstruation, it protects us from iron-deficiency anemia.
  • Reduced risk of “Baby Blues”: A nursing mom has a different “chemistry” in her body. Lactation and breastfeeding stimulate oxytocin hormone release, responsible for feeling love towards our baby and everyone around! At the same time, prolactin, the milk-making hormone, reduces stress tension and makes mothers feel calm. Thus, breastfeeding fills our hearts with love and peace, which reduces the chances of feeling sad or depressed anytime after birth.
  • Saves money and allows us to sleep better at night: Buying formula is expensive, especially if a baby needs a particular type. In addition, doctor’s visits are costly too. On average, a formula-fed baby will be getting sick around every other week. In contrast, an exclusively breastfed baby rarely gets even one fever before starting solids and water at six months! And we all know that the most challenging nights are when the child is sick and crying! So having a healthy child improves our sleep and cuts down the costs!
  • It makes mothering easier! Whenever a baby seems upset or unhappy, the best and easiest solution for a breastfeeding mom is to offer him the breast! Most babies would be happily satisfied whatever their reason of sadness was: hunger, thirst, stress, fear, insecurity, desire to fall asleep, feelings of loneliness, need of human touch and closeness, or even pain somewhere – our milk has oxytocin hormone in it, which is also a pain killer!

Breastfeeding is a true miracle, a relationship that equally benefits both mother and child. It is much more than just nutrition – it is a way of mothering and a manifestation of love! And if you decide to experience it in your life, please remember that learning about it before giving birth will significantly help avoid any problems on the way! (And if you do have any, please always know that you can call me any time – every difficulty in breastfeeding can be resolved, and every mother can have an entire milk supply!

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