Breast milk provides the ideal nutrition for infants. It has a nearly perfect mix of vitamins, protein, and fat -- everything your baby needs to grow. And it's all provided in a form more easily digested than infant formula. Breast milk contains antibodies that help your baby fight off viruses and bacteria.
So what does breastfeeding do for the mother? Read on to find out.
Benefits of breastfeeding for the mother
The reason doctors recommend breastfeeding is that it can improve the new mother’s health in many ways-
Benefits for the uterus - When a woman lactates and feeds her baby, her body releases oxytocin. This hormone helps the uterus shrink back to its regular size (it expands gradually as the pregnancy progresses). Breastfeeding can also stop or reduce bleeding from the uterus, which is common after giving birth.
Uplifts her mood - Since breastfeeding triggers the production of oxytocin, the mother feels calm and relaxed. This hormone stabilizes her mood. Breastfeeding may be effective in curbing postpartum depression which is more common than people think. Breastfeeding reduces stress and anxiety and even promotes a strong bond between the mother and her child from which she derives comfort.
Acts as temporary birth control - For as long as the woman lactates and breastfeeds, she will be infertile and there will be no need to resort to other modes of contraception. Breastfeeding induces the production of prolactin, a hormone that prevents ovulation. So the ovaries do not release eggs. There will be no fears of becoming pregnant even if you are not using contraceptives. This will also help you to space out the birth of your babies if you are planning to have more. Doctors suggest waiting 18 months before conceiving again to allow your body to heal completely from the effects of the last pregnancy.
Induces weight loss - To produce milk, the mother’s body uses up the fat cells that were created while she was pregnant. Also, a large portion of the calories from her diet goes into making milk. That is why breastfeeding quickly burns up excess body-fat. Losing pregnancy weight is important, otherwise, it could lead to future health complications like hypertension or heart disorders. It is recommended that a woman should try to go back to her pre-pregnancy body weight within 12 months.
Reduced cancer risks - It has been found that if women nurse their babies for at least 6 months, then their risk of ever contracting breast cancer or ovarian and endometrial cancer will be significantly reduced.
Fewer possibilities of contracting rheumatoid arthritis - Nursing a child for a duration of 1-2 years can reduce the likelihood of developing rheumatoid arthritis by almost 20%.
Prevention of diabetes - When a woman lactates, her body cells become more responsive to insulin and this keeps her blood sugar levels stable. It has been observed that even women with diabetes need fewer insulin shots when they are breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding has immense health value for the mother. So go ahead and do it!