Most people learn all about the benefits of breastfeeding while they are pregnant. I know that when I was "with child" I practically heard "breast is best" everywhere I went. And, of course, there are more than a few wonderful benefits to breastfeeding, for both babies and their moms. But how breastfeeding affects your health later in life is worth considering, too.
When it comes to a nursing mom's mental health, breastfeeding can have both positive and negative impacts. While some research shows that breastfeeding can be protective against postpartum mood disorders, one study published in the Maternal Child Health Journal shows that it might put moms at risk for postpartum depression (PPD) if nursing doesn't go as planned. That's why it's important to consider the risk factors for PPD, as well as any factors that could put a mom suffering from postpartum depression at risk for developing a chronic mental health condition.
It's clear that breastfeeding can have the long-term affects on moms. It’s important to remember, however, that if you don't want to breastfeed or are unable to, there are definitely other ways to stay healthy, like eating right, limiting alcohol, and getting exercise. Rather than considering breastfeeding a cure-all or pressuring moms who don't want to do it, we should view these potential benefits of breastfeeding as an added bonus if breastfeeding works out. And if it doesn't, that's OK, too.