If you’re pregnant, chances are someone has told you how important it is to breastfeed your baby.
From the first drop, babies receive health benefits that formula cannot provide. Breast milk reduces their risk for childhood leukemia, obesity, diabetes, ear infections, diarrhea and asthma, according to federal health officials. Breastfeeding also lowers the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
But what’s less discussed are the benefits to the nursing mother, according to La Leche League International. Some say breast feeding is as good for the mother as it is the baby.
Breastfeeding for the mother has been linked to lower risks of:
The advantages begin during the first nursing session. When a newborn suckles, it triggers the mother’s pituitary gland to release the hormone oxytocin, which contracts the uterus preventing postpartum hemorrhage. While moms who bottle feed their babies begin menstruating within a couple of months of giving birth, nursing moms don’t get their periods for several – decreasing their chances of getting pregnant again.
For those who have never breastfed or known anyone who has, breastfeeding can be a little intimidating. That’s why medical professionals recommend pregnant women and their partners attend a breastfeeding class to learn proper techniques and gain confidence.
Lactation consultants also help new mothers when they have questions about different positions, preventing nipple soreness and avoiding plugged ducts.
Aside from health benefits to the mother and baby, breastfeeding has financial perks. It saves money because there’s no need to buy formula. Nursing moms also miss fewer work days because their babies do not get as sick as bottle-fed ones.
Moms who need to return to work can pump their milk during the day to give to their baby’s care provider. Newer electric breast pump models make expressing milk faster, too.
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Sources: US Department of Health and Human Services, La Leche League International