Physical Effects of Breastfeeding on Mothers
Breastfeeding is a natural way to feed an infant that also has a variety of benefits. Breast milk provides all the nutrition a baby needs and promotes long-term health in infants. In addition to saving money on formula, mothers can also enjoy the physical effects from breastfeeding, such as health benefits and establishing a bond with their babies.
Breastfeeding may help mothers lose weight after their baby is born. Weight loss occurs when you burn more calories than you consume. In an NBCNews.com article, University of Oxford researcher, Dr. Kirsty Bobrow, explains that the body burns up to 500 calories per day producing breast milk. The weight-loss benefits might even last decades. In her research, published in the July 2012 issue of the “International Journal of Obesity,” Dr. Bobrow and her team found that women in their 50s and early 60s who breastfed had lower body mass indexes than women who did not breastfeed.
Changes in Uterus
Breastfeeding promotes production of the hormone oxytocin in a woman’s body. This hormone helps your uterus contract so it returns to its pre-pregnancy size more quickly, according to HealthyChildren.org. Not only does this help flatten your tummy after childbirth, but the uterus returning to its normal size also provides additional benefits. The release of oxytocin can also help reduce postpartum bleeding and uterine involution -- when the uterus changes from pregnant to non-pregnant state -- for a quicker recovery.
Hormones released during breastfeeding -- prolactin and oxytocin -- help new mothers connect with their babies. Prolactin helps bring on a peaceful and nurturing sensation, while oxytocin produces a strong sense of love and attachment between a mother and her child, according to HealthyChildren.org. The skin-to-skin and eye contact that takes place during breastfeeding also helps establish a bond. An article published in the April 2011 edition of “Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry” reports that breastfeeding promotes a greater maternal sensitivity and improves a mother’s response to her infant's cues.
Other Health Benefits
Breastfeeding promotes long-term health benefits in mothers. WomensHealth.gov reports a link between breastfeeding and lower risk of developing certain diseases and conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, ovarian cancer and postpartum depression. Breastfeeding provides a natural form of contraception as long as the infant is less than 6 months old, the mother’s menstrual cycle has not returned and the baby is breastfeeding throughout the day and night, says HealthyChildren.org.
- NBCNew.com: Study -- Breast-feeding Keeps Women Thinner, Even Decades Later
- International Journal of Obesity: Persistent Effects of Women’s Parity and Breastfeeding Patterns on Their Body Mass Index -- Results from the Million Women Study
- HealthyChildren.org: Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mom
- WomensHealth.gov: Why Breastfeeding is Important
- Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry: Breastfeeding, Brain Activation to Own Infant Cry, and Maternal Sensitivity