Your Body on Breastfeeding: health benefits for mom
Posted on 7 August 2018
Most mothers are aware of the benefits of breastfeeding for their baby but they don’t realise there are benefits for them too.
Breastfeeding can help accelerate your post-birth recovery. In the weeks after birth, you might have an easier time bouncing back if you’re breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding releases a hormone called oxytocin which helps return your uterus to its pre-pregnancy size and also reduces uterine bleeding after birth. In the first few weeks of breastfeeding, you might feel a cramp while nursing your baby; that is your uterus contracting (being pulled back into place). And while it may hurt, it’s a sign of your body’s recovery.
Protection from illnesses
When you are pregnant, your body prepares for breastfeeding because that’s what it expects to do post-birth. According to an article in Scientific American1, researchers believe that not engaging in the breastfeeding process that a woman’s body prepares for during pregnancy can impede many crucial biological systems. Women who don’t breastfeed have an increased risk of developing ovarian and breast cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other serious health conditions.
Another benefit to mom is that because her body naturally uses a lot of calories to make breast milk, it can help with weight loss after birth. But not all moms lose the baby weight with breastfeeding, in fact, some moms gain weight. There are a few factors that can help to increase your chances of weight loss:
- Get enough sleep. This is probably the hardest thing to do as a mother but getting rest is crucial for your health. Lack of sleep can cause adrenal fatigue. Your adrenal glands influence your metabolism, so when they are not functioning optimally it leads to weight change and other health problems.
- Eat a varied and balanced diet. Dr Linda Mothobi, a paediatrician at Mediclinic Muelmed, says that a breastfeeding mom requires an extra 300-500 calories a day to keep a steady milk supply. However, if mom is on a very high-calorie diet and is inactive it may result in weight gain during breastfeeding.
There’s not a woman alive who enjoys getting her period, so here’s some great news: breastfeeding suppresses your menstrual cycle for some time. The time can vary, but the average time is around six months if you are breastfeeding exclusively.
Breastfeeding can be used as a contraceptive method but only if the mother is exclusively breastfeeding, the baby is less than six months old and the mother has not seen her periods. Otherwise, it’s highly advisable that other contraceptive methods are used in conjunction with breastfeeding.