Are there benefits to mothers from breastfeeding
Andrea Hensley is a lactation consultant on staff at Banner Thunderbird Medical Center in Glendale, Ariz.. Her office can be reached at (602) 865-5920.
Question: What benefits do mothers experience from breastfeeding their babies?
Answer: When it comes to nutritional and health benefits, human milk is known to be much better for infants than formula. However, along with the benefits to babies, breastfeeding can also result in a variety of short-term and long-term benefits for mothers.
Emotionally and psychologically, one of the primary benefits of breastfeeding is the bonding opportunity for mother and child. The direct skin-to-skin contact that occurs during breastfeeding results in an intimacy that bottle-feeding mothers may miss or have to replicate through other means. There is also some indication that mothers who breastfeed experience less postpartum stress and anxiety due to the presence of certain hormones that are triggered by breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding provides numerous physical benefits as well. As the body expends energy producing milk, it burns calories, in turn helping mothers who attempt to return to their pre-pregnancy figure. Breastfeeding may also reduce the occurrence of postpartum bleeding, ovarian cancer, premenopausal breast cancer, and the development of Type II diabetes. Additionally, it’s also believed that mothers who breastfeed their babies reduce their risks of broken bones from osteoporosis later in life.
Even though you can’t put a price on the health of your baby, breastfeeding presents a significant cost savings benefit as well. Along with the cost of formula, formula-fed babies are generally sick more often, meaning more co-pays for doctor visits, as well as lost income from missing work to care for a sick baby.
While breastfeeding presents numerous benefits to infants and mothers, it is normal for expecting mothers to want to consider all available options. Along with consulting your doctor or a lactation expert, there are also prenatal breastfeeding classes that can provide the information you need to make the best decision for you and your baby.
Reviewed August 2010