5 Ways Breastfeeding Can Help With Anxiety, According To Experts
Breastfeeding is a personal choice. Full stop. And while doctors and researchers have found the benefits to be plentiful (for both you and baby), let me say first that while this post will detail the ways breastfeeding can help with anxiety and make your life less stressful, please know this is also a judgment-free zone. Making the decision to breastfeed (or not), or perhaps dealing with the painful realization that you may not physically be able to breastfeed, is no one's decision or business but yours.
Now that we have that little PSA out of the way, let's get real for a moment. Motherhood is hard, and early motherhood (especially for first-time moms), can be particularly stressful. While the health benefits of breastfeeding, namely protecting against allergies, eczema, and viruses through easily digestible proteins in breast milk are well-known, there are also practical ways that breastfeeding can make the early days of motherhood less stressful.
In an interview with Romper, Krystal Nicole Duhaney, a registered nurse; certified lactation consultant; and creator of Milky Mama, a leading all-natural lactation treat company, gives her thoughts on why breastfeeding has the ability to make life less stressful for new moms.
1. On-The-Go Is SO Much Easier
Duhaney, an entrepreneur and breastfeeding mama herself, totally gets the busy mom hustle. But when it comes to leaving the house, breastfeeding moms are able to take less stuff out the door, thus alleviating some of the stress of being "out in the wild" with a newborn. Duhaney tells Romper, "Breastfeeding moms technically don’t need to carry any extra feeding equipment such as bottles, formula, water, etc. They have liquid gold in the perfect temperature, ready to feed, easily accessible by simply lifting their shirt."
2. Less Mess In The Kitchen
This breastfeeding benefit speaks to me on a deep level, as washing dishes is my least favorite chore. Yep, that's right. Duhaney reminds me, "Without the need for bottles, breastfeeding alleviates the buildup of dirty bottles and parts in the sink. Which means, of course, less dishes to wash." Hurrah!
3. It's Economical
Your wallet will thank you later. Duhaney tells Romper, "Breastfeeding moms can save approximately $1,500 in the first year of baby's life by not having to buy formula." Better infant health means fewer health insurance claims, less employee time off to care for sick children, and higher productivity, all of which concern employers, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). Additionally, the NCBI reported that increasing rates of breastfeeding can help reduce the prevalence of various illnesses and health conditions, which in turn results in lower health care costs. Seems like a win-win, right?
4. Time Saver
Time is of the essence, especially when you have a fussy baby on your hands. Duhaney writes, "Breastfeeding can save you time, which is very vital when you have a screaming 'hangry' baby who just wants to eat NOW. Breastfeeding allows you to feed and calm your baby instantly without having to wait for water to boil." Having been in this situation a time or two, I can definitely attest to the relief that comes with the ability to feed a fussy baby on demand.
5. Breastfeeding Lowers Blood Pressure
Most importantly, Duhaney shares that for new moms suffering from anxiety, breastfeeding can provide a healthy benefit. Studies have shown that breastfeeding women have reduced levels of stress hormones and enhanced levels of hormones that foster feelings of wellbeing. Expanding on that, Danielle Downs Spradlin, a certified lactation consultant and counselor, tells Romper, "Breastfeeding lowers blood pressure, particularly with milk ejection. Lowered blood pressure can help curb anxiety. Postpartum mood disorders are the most common complication of childbirth, and most treatment options are compatible with breastfeeding."