You already know why breastfeeding is best for your baby. There are its undisputed benefits -- antibodies that protect newborns from illnesses and cash savings that could have been spent on formula and sterilizer. But it's also not a secret that moms get a lot of perks from breastfeeding.
In fact, in the news today, a recent analysis of 17 past studies found that women who breastfeed their children for six to nine months reduce their risk of endometrial cancer by 11 percent. The longer you breastfeed, the lower your risk, according to the study.
Of course, this research does not say breastfeeding will guarantee a breastfeeding mom to be free of cancer. But nursing does contribute to moms' health in so many ways.
1. Breastfeeding helps mom recover faster after childbirth. It stimulates contractions in your uterus so breasfeeding helps your uterus to get back or shrink to its original size faster. Nursing your baby also burns a lot of calories, which could help you get rid of the pregnancy weight. Weight loss still varies in each new mom, but it certainly helps. 2. Breastfeeding allows you to forge an intimate bond with your baby. Breastfeeding triggers the release of oxytocin (a.k.a. the love hormone) and prolactin, which are hormones that relax the mother and make her feel more nurturing toward her baby. It also promotes lower stress levels, which could lessen a mother's chances of experiencing baby blues or depression. 3. Breastfeeding acts as a natural contraception. Exclusive breastfeeding delays the onset of menstruation after giving birth, which could help in spacing pregnancies. Note, however, that it only works if you're exclusively breastfeeding, your baby is less than six months old, and your menstruation hasn't started yet after birth.
4. Breastfeeding has been linked to reducing the risk for breast cancer. Women who breastfeed longer are less likely to get diagnosed with breast cancer. It also lowers the chances of the cancer coming back after a successful treatment. Lifestyle changes and having less menstrual cycles (ergo, less exposure to estrogen) are some of the doctors' theories behind the link. 5. Breastfeeding has been associated with a lower risk for ovarian cancer. A 2013 study found that women who breastfeed for longer than a year decreases their risk of developing ovarian tumors by 63 percent, compared to moms who breastfeed for less than seven months. Nursing delays ovulation and thus lessens the risk of cell mutation, which triggers the disease. 6. Breastfeeding lowers the risk developing type 2 diabetes. A 2010 study showed that nursing protects women from type 2 diabetes because the lactation makes cells more sensitive to the hormone insulin. Nursing also helps store fat outside of the abdominal area. Abdominal fat build-up has been linked to increased risks for metabolic disorders such as insulin resistance and heart disease. 7. Breastfeeding helps protect moms from other conditions in old age. Studies have also claimed that breastfeeding helps lower the chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease, muscle degeneration, osteoporosis, and rheumatoid arthritis. These studies might be small, but they do lay the foundation for the extended benefit of nursing for the mother and not just for the baby.