Breastfeeding is the hands-down healthier method of feeding babies, but not as much focus has been on the numerous health benefits for the breastfeeding mother.
What are some of the long-term health benefits of breastfeeding for the nursing mother?
Reduced Rate of Breast Cancer
Evidence shows that breastfeeding does reduce the woman’s chance of having breast cancer. Most of the results seem to indicate that the biggest difference has been with a long duration of breastfeeding, In other words, the longer a mother breastfeeds, the more she can reduce her chances of breast cancer.
Reduced Cardiovascular Disease
Now there is reason to believe that breastfeeding can help women reduce their chances of cardiovascular disease including some of the corresponding risk factors such as hypertension, obesity and diabetes. Researchers discovered that a duration of more than twelve months of breastfeeding reduced the mother’s risk of cardiovascular diseases including hypertension, diabetes and hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol).
Lower Risk of Osteoporosis
Though her levels of calcium are often lower while the mother is breastfeeding, experts have discovered that after she is finished breastfeeding, her bone density actually increases to a level higher than that of a mother who has not breastfed.
Reduced Amount of Insulin for Diabetic Mothers
When diabetic mothers breastfeed, the amount of insulin their bodies need to keep their blood sugar regulated is lower than if the mother feeds her baby infant formula.
Reduced Rates of Endometrial Cancer
Endometrial cancer is the most common cancer of the reproductive tract. When compared to women who had never breastfed, breastfeeding provided a protective benefit against endometrial cancer that was 2.3 greater after only one month of breastfeeding.
Decrease in the Incidence of Rheumatoid Arthritis
A long duration of breastfeeding also provides a protective benefit against developing rheumatoid arthritis. Mothers who breastfeed for longer than 12 months have a decreased likelihood of developing this connective tissue disease later in life.
Additional Benefits of Breastfeeding for the Mother
Many women enjoy the additional health benefits provided by breastfeeding including a delay in the onset of ovulation (providing natural spacing between children), postpartum weight loss and helping to prevent postpartum hemorrhage after the baby is born.
In addition to health benefits, breastfeeding saves over a thousand dollars over the cost of infant formula for the first year of life as well as reducing environmental costs for bottles and containers. Breastfeeding promotes bonding between mother and baby and is extremely rewarding since she knows that she alone provides her baby with the healthiest and best option for nutrition.