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Does Breastfeeding Affect Your Immune System?

The benefits of breastfeeding are huge — that's common knowledge. It's considered to be the best source of nourishment for your baby, and study after study has found that breastfeeding can improve your little one's immune system and keep them protected from germs and illnesses. But does breastfeeding affect your immune system as a mother, or do the benefits only matter to your baby?

Breastfeeding can be hard, but it does have some great bonuses for you, just like it does for your baby. According to La Leche League International, breastfeeding actually decreases the risk factors of heart disease, osteoporosis, breast cancer, and ovarian and uterine cancer. Because breastfeeding also gives women a large amount of oxytocin in their bodies, Baby Center noted that women are more relaxed and less stressed when breastfeeding.

But does it actually boost your immune system to protect you from a cold or the flu? There's no exact research that states breastfeeding affects your immune system, but the health benefits for you are overwhelming and can potentially keep you healthier. According to one study, breastfeeding can cut the risk of postpartum depression in half, which sounds pretty awesome. And when you consider that Psychology Today noted that depression can hurt your immune system and make you more susceptible to illness, you can connect breastfeeding and a mother's healthy immune system.

If you're feeling like you're constantly sick or your immune system feels like it has taken a beating after giving birth, you can probably chalk it up to being sleep-deprived. According to the Mayo Clinic, people who don't get enough sleep are more likely to become sick when in contact with a virus, even a simple one like a cold. And parents? They don't often get enough sleep, especially if you're up every two hours to breastfeed.

So just connect the dots — breastfeeding provides you with plenty of benefits that can improve your health. If you co-sleep, Kelly Mom noted that you can get more sleep as a breastfeeding mom, which can improve your immune system and help you fight off illnesses. The small things breastfeeding provides you with, like reduced anxiety according to Dr. Sears, are actually the big things when it comes to your immune system. Feeling down, cutting yourself off from other people, and feeling stressed can all weaken your immune system, noted Prevention. So use the benefits of breastfeeding, like reduced risks of depression and other health issues, along with other healthy choices to keep your immune system in top shape.