We’ve always known that breastfed babies experience a wide range of physical and emotional benefits from nursing. But what many don’t realize are the many physical and emotional benefits breastfeeding offers moms. Some may even surprise you.

Breastfeeding Moms Experience These Health Advantages 

Making the decision to nurse your baby is an act of pure love you give your child. After all, breastfeeding is a healthy choice for your little one. It also offers you some wonderful health benefits, including: 

Weight Loss

When you breastfeed, your body burns about 500 extra calories a day building and maintaining your milk supply. Even when you’re consuming the amount of calories experts recommend you take in every day, if you’re breastfeeding exclusively, you can see a healthy weight loss of about 1 pound every week or so. 

Return to Normal

Nipple stimulation while breastfeeding causes a release of oxytocin into your bloodstream. The hormone stimulates contractions of muscles that help your uterus heal and return to its normal pre-pregnancy shape and size.  

Less Bleeding

When you breastfeed your baby immediately following birth, your uterus begins the healing process. As it contracts and returns to normal, you’ll notice you may experience a reduction in postpartum bleeding. 

Fewer Infections

Some moms experience a urinary tract infection (UTI) after birth, which can be the result of having received  a catheter during a C-section delivery. If you’re breastfeeding, you’ll likely experience fewer UTIs postpartum than a mom who does not breastfeed. 

Reduced Chance of Anemia

Iron deficiency brought on by blood loss during childbirth or poor diet can result in anemia. If you’re nursing your child, you’re less likely to develop an iron deficiency that results in anemia.

Moms Who Breastfeed Report These Emotional Rewards

In addition to physical health benefits, breastfeeding your little one offers you many positive emotional rewards:

Lowered Risk of Depression

The “baby blues” impacts as many as 50-75% of new mothers.1 Some 15% of those moms will develop long-term depression, called postpartum depression.1 Studies have shown that breastfeeding moms have a significantly lower risk of postpartum depression than moms who are not nursing.2 In fact, the longer you breastfeed your little one, the lower the risk of developing postpartum depression.2

Reduced Stress

When you breastfeed, your body produces oxytocin and prolactin. These soothing hoarmones reduce stress and promote feelings of well-being. 

Better Self-Esteem

There is every reason to take pride in nursing your baby. Recognizing that your body is producing the nutrient-rich food that your baby needs to grow and flourish should make you feel fantastic about yourself. Congratulations, mama! Breastfeeding isn’t always easy or glamorous, so staying committed to meeting your unique breastfeeding goals is a big deal and one that’s worth celebrating!

More Calm

Breast milk contains a hormone called cholecystokinin that enhances digestion, sedation, and an overall feeling of satiation and well-being. This can help your baby feel calmer. Breastfed babies also experience fewer childhood illnesses. As a mom, it can be stressful to have a fussy baby or one who is frequently sick. But because your little one is calm, you can be too.

Bonding with Baby

One of the most wonderful benefits of breastfeeding is the closeness and love you feel for your baby. Establishing that vital bond early in your baby’s life will lead to a strong relationship between the two of you for a lifetime. 

Long-Term Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mom

Studies have shown that there are many long-term benefits of breastfeeding that continue long after your baby has been weaned. For mothers who breastfeed, there is a reduced risk of:

Breast Cancer and Endometriosis

Breastfeeding moms like you have a lower risk of pre- and post-menopausal breast cancer.3 Because hormonal changes during lactation delay menstrual periods, you have less exposure to hormones like estrogen which can spur on cancer cell growth.3  Delayed menstrual periods are also the reason why you are at a reduced risk of developing endometriosis.4

Ovarian Cancer

As a breastfeeding mom, you have a lower risk of developing ovarian cancer. That’s because breastfeeding suppresses ovulation. The less frequently you ovulate, the less exposure you have to hormones like estrogen.3 

Autoimmune Diseases and Other Illnesses

The risk for developing multiple sclerosis,5 rheumatoid arthritis, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol is greatly reduced for breastfeeding moms.6 

Osteoporosis

When you’re lactating, your body absorbs bone-building calcium much more efficiently. That’s why, as a breastfeeding mom, you have a lower risk of developing postmenopausal osteoporosis.7

Heart Disease

For women who breastfeed, 11% are less likely to develop cardiovascular disease, 14% are less likely to develop heart disease, 12% are less likely to have strokes, and 17% are less likely to die from cardiovascular disease.8

So, in the end, it seems that keeping your baby close to your heart—literally! —while nursing will actually benefit your heart, body, and soul in so many more ways than one. 

Resources

  1. Cleveland Clinic, Postpartum Depression. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9312-postpartum-depression
  2. Florida Atlantic University, (2021). Breastfeeding Status and Duration Impact Postpartum Risk.  https://www.fau.edu/newsdesk/articles/nursing-breastfeeding-study.php
  3. MD Anderson Cancer Center, (2014). Breastfeeding Lowers Your Breast Cancer Risk. https://www.mdanderson.org/publications/focused-on-health/breastfeeding-breast-cancer-prevention.h19-1589046.html
  4. Verywell Health, (2021). Causes and Risk Factors of Endometriosis. https://www.verywellhealth.com/endometriosis-causes-and-risk-factors-4590110
  5. Reuters Health, (2017). Mothers Who Breastfeed Might Have Lower Multiple Sclerosis Risk. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-breastfeeding-multiple-scleros/mothers-who-breastfeed-might-have-lower-multiple-sclerosis-risk-idUSKBN1A52LB
  6. Pediatric Primary & Acute Care Clinic. Breastfeeding Provides Many Health Benefits for Mothers Beyond Emotional Satisfaction. https://www.pmkidz.com/breastfeeding
  7. Parents, (2021). The Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mom and Baby. https://www.parents.com/baby/breastfeeding/basics/the-benefits-of-breastfeeding/
  8. American Heart Association News. (2022). Breastfeeding May Reduce Mom’s Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke. https://www.heart.org/en/news/2022/01/11/breastfeeding-may-reduce-moms-risk-of-heart-disease-and-stroke