The Benefits Of Breastfeeding For Mum
Breastfeeding has almost as many advantages and benefits for the mum as for baby.
Even breastfeeding for just a few months will have benefits for the mother! For starters, the hormone oxytocin is stimulated by breastfeeding and after the birth encourages the womb to shrink back to normal and therefore stop bleeding sooner than in a formula-feeding woman.
Breastfeeding Means Less Breast CancerSeveral studies suggest that breastfeeding for a long time helps protect some women from cancer.Breast cancer is a common women's cancer in developed countries. It's particularly common in the UK and the US. And it has become more common over the last 200 years. Yet in those parts of the world where women spend many years, in total, breastfeeding babies, breast cancer is rare.
Various studies have found that the effect on breasts from breastfeeding one or two babies for a few hours, days, weeks or months is very different from feeding one or two babies for many months or even years, and different again from feeding more children for two, three, four or more years each. Today most women breastfeed very little, if at all, which robs their breasts of their main function. When a woman is neither pregnant nor breastfeeding, her body prepares itself each month to welcome a fertilised egg. Her breasts, womb and ovaries undergo profound changes. One theory is that the repeated monthly multiplication of breast cells may be one reason behind the high levels of breast cancer in developed countries.
For maximum benefit, you should ideally choose to breastfeed on an unrestricted basis, don't give your baby solids for six months, and breastfeed each child for at least a year. This usually prevents ovulation for many months, which delays the return of the monthly disruption of breast cells. There's some evidence this may reduce the risk of breast cancer.
Less Ovarian CancerOvary cancer is more common in industrialised countries and kills more women than any other cancer. The risk factors are similar to those for breast cancer. For example, years of repeated monthly ovulation make it more likely. The more children a woman has, and the longer she breastfeeds each one, the lower her risk of ovary cancer is likely to be.
Less Breast PainWomen are less likely to get this each month after they have breastfed a baby
Breastfeeding Helps You Get Your Figure BackThree months after her baby is born a breastfeeding woman is more likely to be losing weight without dieting than one who is formula-feeding. Breastfeeding uses up some of the fat stored in pregnancy and helps a woman get back to her pre-pregnancy shape and weight, provided she doesn't overeat. If her breasts change shape, they probably do so because of pregnancy, not breastfeeding. Women report that their breasts are variously either smaller, larger or droopier after breastfeeding but there's no general trend. However, breasts tend to return to their previous shape and size about six months after weaning.
The Convenience Of BreastfeedingA big practical bonus is that breastfeeding is more convenient even at home, with no bottles and teats to wash and sterilise and no feeds to prepare. Breast milk is always ready at hand. And going out is easier as you have no equipment to collect, prepare and take with you. Holidays and all forms of travel become much more practical. Another advantage is that it's nearly always possible to comfort an infant with the breast easily and quickly, anywhere and any time, without overfeeding, whereas a formula-fed baby often isn't comforted by sucking a bottle of water or a dummy yet may get too much milk if allowed to suck freely at a bottle. This means a breastfed baby may be more contented than a formula-fed baby.
Breastfeeding Is Cheaper
Breastfeeding As A ContraceptiveIf a woman breastfeeds fully and exclusively or nearly fully (with at least six and preferably many more feeds well-spaced throughout the 24 hours), and hasn't yet had her first period after childbirth, she has a better than 98 per cent chance of avoiding pregnancy. As time passes, a breastfeeding woman's prolactin level falls until eventually it's no longer high enough to prevent ovulation. In exclusively breast-feeding women this doesn't happen until the tenth week after childbirth at the very earliest, and only one exclusively breastfeeding woman in 20 ovulates before the 18th week. The contraceptive effect of breastfeeding differs from woman to woman even if they breastfeed in similar ways. But the type of breastfeeding makes a very big difference to the return of fertility. The average time before the first period in women who breastfeed exclusively and on an unrestricted basis for six to eight months, then introduce solids but continue to breastfeed frequently for drinks and comfort, is over 14 months! As the months pass after delivery, ovulation before the first period becomes increasingly likely. One woman in 20 ovulates before her first period, which is one reason why using breastfeeding as a contraceptive isn't 100 per cent effective.
Breastfeeding Is Better For Your BonesBreastfeeding reduces the long-term risk of osteoporosis. It also lowers the chance of getting rheumatoid arthritis.
Reduces Stress and Boosts Maternal FeelingsThere's something wonderful about being able to nourish your baby yourself, body to body. Being able to give the baby the pleasure of being at your breast is rewarding too, as is the ability to comfort a crying baby almost immediately. Women who breastfeed successfully as long as they want report being very satisfied even if they are unaware of the health advantages to their babies. A lot of mums say that breastfeeding enhances the bond they have with their baby.
Breastfeeding women benefit from increased prolactin, which encourages calmness. They also have a less intense response to the stress hormone adrenaline.
Overall, most breastfeeding women enjoy doing it. There's something very special about having a baby at your breast staring up at you and perhaps stopping sucking every now and then to break into a gummy smile.
"...and the sight of a baby's tiny, dimpled, star-shaped hand resting on the breast as he feeds is among the magic moments of mothering.."
Buy Dr Stanway's Book - Breast is Best - Here