The benefits babies receive from their mother's breast milk are well documented. But what's lesser known are the benefits breastfeeding has for the mothers themselves. There are so many things about breastfeeding that are actually good for you, aka the mother, that make it well worth the effort and energy it takes. Although you probably feel exhausted from the full time job that is breastfeeding, rest assured that it's doing more than just consuming all of your free time and sleep.
All sarcasm aside, the benefits breastfeeding provides mothers is much more than just a feeling of empowerment from what your body can do (which in itself is an amazing benefit.) It makes you healthier physically and emotionally, as this list will show. The benefits start the moment you nurse your baby for the very first time after giving birth, and continue years and years after weaning your baby. Some are fairly simple and straightforward, while others affect you at a hormonal and cellular level.
Many mothers breastfeed because they're told it's the healthiest thing to do for their babies. But being aware of the following breastfeeding benefits can make it even easier for you to decide to try — and stick to — breastfeeding.
1. It Releases Good Hormones
According to Breastfeeding Problems, the two hormones released when you breastfeed — oxytocin and prolactin — not only help your milk supply, but play a large part in delaying your period and helping your bond with your baby. Talk about a perk.
2. It Helps You Recover From Childbirth Quicker
When your body releases oxytocin when you breastfeed after giving birth, it makes your uterus contract, reducing blood loss, according to Fit Pregnancy.
3. It Helps Your Uterus Shrink To It's Pre-Pregnancy Size
Similarly, the benefits for your uterus extend weeks down the road. According to La Leche League International (LLLI), breastfeeding will help your uterus return to it's usual size.
4. It Reduces The Risk Of Breast And Ovarian Cancer
According to BreastCancer.org, breastfeeding longer than a year will reduce your risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancers, and several other kinds of cancer.
5. It Heightens The Emotional Bond With Baby
Time called breastfeeding the "key to mother-baby bonding" and it's mostly due to the hormones your body releases when you nurse, mainly oxytocin, or the "love hormone."
6. It Reduces The Risk Of Diabetes, Arthritis, And High Blood Pressure
An article from Unicef reported that breastfeeding reduces the risk of developing type two diabetes later in life. Arthritis and high blood pressure are among the other kinds of sicknesses nursing protects against.
7. It Reduces The Risk Of Osteoporosis
It was once thought that breastfeeding mothers were at a higher risk for developing osteoporosis. But according to LLLI, studies have found the opposite to be true — although you loose some calcium when you nurse, after weaning your bone density actually increases, reducing your risk.
8. It Slows The Return Of Your Period
According to LLLI, if you're nursing frequently and your baby is still younger than six months, breastfeeding provides a delay in your fertility.
9. It Lowers The Risk Of Postpartum Depression
Although it doesn't rule out depression altogether, breastfeeding has been shown to more gradually release hormones in mothers' bodies, lowering their risk, according to another article by LLLI.