Breast is best for mom too
Posted on 15 August 2016
We all know breast milk is the best option for babies, but does breastfeeding offer benefits for mothers too? We asked Erica Neser, a lactation consultant for Mediclinic Stellenbosch.
‘There are so many positives that far outweigh any possible initial negatives when it comes to breastfeeding,’ says Erica. She has written and talked extensively about the practicalities and joys of breastfeeding and says there are 9 main gains for moms who are willing and able to breastfeed their babies.
1. Less bleeding after birth
Breastfeeding stimulates the release of hormones that help to shrink the mother’s uterus post-pregnancy and decrease post-partum bleeding.
2. A boost in happiness
Oxytocin, sometimes referred to as the ‘love hormone’, is released when mothers breastfeed their babies. This helps moms to bond with their babies and makes them feel more peaceful and relaxed.
3. Delayed periods and pregnancy
While breastfeeding alone should not be considered a safe form of contraception, it is known to delay the return of a mother’s menstrual cycle. Breastfeeding therefore also extends the time between pregnancies when planning another child and not using contraception.
4. Burning more calories
Breastfeeding can help moms return to their pre-pregnancy weight earlier, provided they don’t ‘eat for two’. Breastfeeding a baby uses up extra calories, so that post-baby weight shifts a lot faster.
5. A reduced cancer risk
Breastfeeding has been shown to reduce the risk of certain cancers including breast cancer and ovarian cancer. The longer a mother breastfeeds, the greater the reduction in risk.
6. It saves money
Breastfeeding is much cheaper than formula feeding because breast milk is free. What’s more, taking the health benefits to both mother and baby into account, there’s likely to be a saving in healthcare costs too.
7. It’s quick, convenient and easy
The early stages of breastfeeding can be trying for some moms and babies, but once they get the hang of it, it’s virtually hassle-free. There’s no washing, sterilising or warming of bottles.
8. Improved blood sugar levels
Diabetic mothers who breastfeed their babies report lower daily blood sugar levels, which requires less daily use of insulin. It’s believed that this is because the sugars in the mother’s blood are transferred to the breast milk for the baby.
9. Complete sustainability
The more a mother breastfeeds, the more milk she produces. Breastfeeding stimulates the release of prolactin, which stimulates milk production. In addition, breastfeeding doesn’t impact the environment. There’s no external energy source required for it and breast milk comes packaged in the perfect containers so there’s no associated industrial footprint.