This post was written by Michelle Harlan, RN, BSN, birth planner, Parkview Noble Family Birthing Center.
We always hear about the many benefits of a mother’s milk for baby, but what about the positive effects it can have for the mom? Let’s explore some of the many perks that come with breastfeeding.
From the very first skin-to-skin and feeding, until the very last feeding, mom produces oxytocin that causes uterine contractions that help the uterus go back down to its normal size and reduce postpartum bleeding, as well as, delay the menstrual cycle. The oxytocin is also known as the “love hormone”. When oxytocin is released, it promotes that strong sense of love and bonding between mom and baby.
Prolactin is another important hormone necessary for breastfeeding. This is what tells your body to make the milk once baby consumes it. Prolactin also helps relax the mother, allowing her to just focus on her baby and that calm nursing feeling.
Reduced risk of depression
According to the National Institute of Health, breastfeeding can decrease a mother’s risk of developing postpartum depression. The research shows that mothers who did not breastfeed, or those who stopped breastfeeding before six months, had an increased risk of postpartum depression. Breastfeeding creates a bond and relationship between mom and baby that results in less anxiety and a strong connection.
Breastfeeding is free, whereas standard formula can cost between $4-$10 a day. Plus, since breastfeeding decreases baby’s chances of infections and illness, it equates to less doctor visits and less time missing work.
Breastfeeding takes the guesswork out of how much to prepare, not having any bottles to make, making sure it’s the right temperature, and so on. Our bodies do all of that for us.
Moms who breastfeed have a decreased risk of ovarian and breast cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The practice also increases mom’s bone density. When moms are sick, their bodies produce extra antibodies and pass them along to baby. This decreases the amount of time mom is sick and reduces baby’s risk.
Let’s not forget about the fact that breastfeeding helps burn 400-500 calories a day, which can help moms get back to their pre-pregnancy weight.
Breastfeeding provides a wonderful bonding experience for the mother and the baby. It’s the one parenting behavior that only the mother can do for her baby, creating a beautiful physical and emotional connection.