You have probably heard that breastfeeding provides a wide range of amazing health benefits for babies, but you may not realize that the act of breastfeeding is also capable of substantially improving a mother’s well-being. Read on to discover the ten most fascinating and surprising ways in which choosing to breastfeed can boost your health and extend your life.
1. It makes you less likely to develop a range of different cancers.
A large number of independent research projects have shown that women who breastfeed are reducing their chances of suffering from cancer. For example, those who breastfeed for more than three months slightly reduce their risk of developing endometrial and ovarian cancers, and they are more than 10% less likely to develop breast cancer at some point in their lifetime.
2. It makes you less likely to develop postnatal depression.
If you choose to breastfeed your baby, you may be protecting your mental health. One 2003 study performed by Australian scientists has shown that mothers who did not breastfeed (or who breastfed for less than three months) were more likely to develop postnatal depression.
3. It helps to preserve your cardiovascular health.
Data from the ongoing Women’s Health Study has shown that breastfeeding provides several benefits for your heart. You are 11% less likely to suffer from high blood pressure, 10% less likely to be at risk of developing heart disease, and 19% less likely to have high levels of fat in your blood if you breastfeed.
4. It makes you less likely to develop arthritis.
A number of lengthy studies on women’s health have revealed that if you breastfeed for a cumulative period of longer than a year over the course of your life then you are approximately 20% less likely to develop some form of rheumatoid arthritis. If you breastfeed for two years over the course of your life, you are a staggering 50% less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis.
5. It helps you to get back in shape.
After having a baby, you may struggle to lose weight and improve your physical fitness. However, there are a number of reasons why breastfeeding can help you in your quest to shed excess pounds. Firstly, if you breastfeed then you will burn 500 more calories per day than someone who does not breastfeed. To burn this large amount of calories, you would normally have to cycle or run for at least half an hour. Secondly, when your body produces milk to feed your baby, your uterus shrinks more quickly. This shrinking allows you to look slimmer sooner after giving birth.
6. It helps you to form a bond with your baby.
When you breastfeed, your body produces a hormone called oxytocin. This hormone promotes pair bonding and feelings of intimacy in romantic relationships, and it also helps you to feel content and affectionate while you are spending time with your baby.
7. It reduces your risk of suffering from brittle bones.
Women often struggle with osteoporosis in older age, which leads to a higher likelihood of suffering from painful fractures. However, breastfeeding makes you around four times less likely to develop brittle bones.
8. It can help you sleep.
The chemicals in breast milk can help to soothe your baby to sleep in your arms, and this peaceful experience can also help to relax and calm you, making it easier to fall asleep.
9. It reduces your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Studies show that women who breastfeed are 4-12% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes, although it is currently still unclear why this correlation exists.
10. It reduces your risk of developing anemia.
Finally, producing breast milk requires less iron than you typically lose during a menstrual period. This conservation of iron makes you less likely to develop iron-deficiency anemia even after breastfeeding is over.
Although the health benefits of breastfeeding are clearly substantial, it is important to note that not all women can breastfeed. You should never breastfeed your baby if you are suffering from certain diseases that may be transmitted to the child or if you are taking a certain medication that could pass into your baby’s body through your breast milk.