We often talk about why breastfeeding is beneficial for the baby, but rarely is there any consideration given to how breastfeeding might benefit a mother. In fact, most people seem to perceive breastfeeding to be a sacrificial practice that mothers offer to their babies. I’ve heard concerns from women that breastfeeding means saggy breasts and being stuck to the baby. I doubt these women have any idea of the many benefits they stand to reap from nursing a baby. Perhaps if they did, they might not be so quick to opt out of the practice.
So what are the benefits that a mother derives from breastfeeding her baby? There are surprisingly a lot more than one might think. First and foremost are the health benefits. A mother who breastfeeds has been found to have a lower risk of developing heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, diabetes, osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis. She also has a lowered risk of postpartum bleeding and iron deficiency anaemia.
Then there are the psychological benefits. Breastfeeding mothers are calmer and less prone to the baby blues and developing postnatal depression. They find it easier to slip into the role of motherhood and are less likely to be stressed by early childhood illnesses since breastfed babies are less often ill.
Given the high level of importance that many women give to regaining their pre-pregnant shape, the weight loss benefits of breastfeeding must not be overlooked. Not only does breastfeeding utilise extra calories a day (as many as swimming 30 laps or riding uphill for an hour), but the production of milk draws fats from the waist and hip stores where they were deposited to help protect the womb and baby during pregnancy. This reason alone should find many mothers flocking over to the breastfeeding camp.
There also financial and convenience benefits to be derived from breastfeeding. For more information on how breastfeeding benefits mothers, visit this article.