Mothers are encouraged to breastfeed their babies and the emphasis is usually placed on what the baby stands to gain. The baby receives essential antibodies, essential nutrients since breast milk is a complete food, better brain development and an overall healthy child. Do you know that as a mother you also stand to gain from breastfeeding?
Uterus gets back to shape
The baby’s suckling prompts the release of oxytocin which promotes the milk-production reflex. It also causes contractions in the uterus thus returning the uterus into its normal size and shape before the pregnancy. The contractions also reduce postpartum hemorrhage (excessive bleeding after delivery).
The reduced risk of hemorrhage also means your periods take longer to resume as long as you are exclusively breastfeeding. Apart from it being great news for you since you already have a cranky little baby to take care of, delayed periods conserve your iron supplies. This means that you remain at minimal risk of developing anemia.
Delayed periods also means delayed pregnancy which means your breastfeeding acts as a method for family planning (known as lactation amenorrhea). LAM is effective for the first six months after delivery. Those not breastfeeding may have to start thinking of contraception after only 6 weeks of delivery.
Producing milk is a whole metabolic task that takes up between 200 and 500 calories from your body. That would be equivalent to swimming 30 laps in a pool or riding uphill on a bicycle for one hour daily for those not breastfeeding.
That puts you at an advantage of losing weight faster and keeping it off for much longer. This therefore sorts your worries about being overweight and unhealthy after the baby comes.
Better handling of gestational diabetes
If you had gestational diabetes breastfeeding lowers your blood sugar levels. This is true even for those mothers with type 1diabetes and those that are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Reduced heart problems
The ability to control weight loss, lower blood sugar levels and the presence of HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol found in breastfeeding mothers) all lead to better heart health.
You may assume that breastfeeding takes a lot of your calcium from your bones thus weakening them. It does take some of your calcium but once you stop breastfeeding you get back to normal and even make more calcium so your bones become much stronger than before. Your risk of fracturing a hip out of the blue definitely decreases.
Reduced risk of cancers
This is not just about breast cancer. It reduces the risk of ovarian and even uterine cancer. It is assumed that mothers that don’t breastfeed are exposed to higher levels of estrogen thus increasing their risk to these female cancers.