Are you trying to decide if you are going to breastfeed your baby? There are many reasons why it might be a good idea! In this article, we will explore the many proven benefits of breastfeeding for mom.
The decision to breastfeed is a big one – and for some, it’s a hard one to make.
You may want to try to breastfeed no matter what, but on the other hand, you may want to weigh the pros and cons.
The different benefits of breastfeeding for mom will be discussed in this post (breastfeeding benefits for baby are discussed here). I hope that this will be helpful to anyone who is looking for information!
My hope is that this will help you make an informed decision about breastfeeding.
Hi! 👋 I’m Katie, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant I have helped thousands of moms worldwide navigate their breastfeeding journey since 2015. I can’t wait to help you! Consider checking out my 1:1 lactation support services or enrolling in one of our online breastfeeding courses today!
Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mom
While there are several benefits of breastfeeding for the baby, there are also many benefits of breastfeeding for the mom as well!
Breastfeeding helps your uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size more quickly because of the contractions that are caused because of the increase in Oxytocin.
The oxytocin contracts the smooth muscle cells within your uterus which helps to reduce the uterus to its original size2.
Reduced Bleeding Postpartum
Reduced bleeding during the third stage of delivery is another benefit of breastfeeding. This is the stage when your body is waiting to deliver the placenta. Research has shown1 that breastfeeding or other nipple stimulation can decrease bleeding during this stage.
Sure, you might feel a bit stressed and overwhelmed after you just had a baby, but thanks to the Oxytocin and a hormone called Prolactin that increases while breastfeeding, mothers often feel much calmer reducing your stress level and making you happier.
These hormones are also thought to help with the psychological benefits of breastfeeding.
Absence of Periods
The absence of your menstrual cycle often occurs when you are breastfeeding, especially if it’s done exclusively. This is caused by the high level of the prolactin hormone3 which prevents the body from ovulating.
Many find this to be a benefit, some women miss the predictability of their cycles. It can make it harder to detect a pregnancy while breastfeeding.
This can also make it difficult to get pregnant while breastfeeding as well.
With that said, some women have reported their cycle coming back much sooner, despite exclusively breastfeeding.
Using breastfeeding as a form of birth control should be done with caution for this reason. though. Here are some details on the LAM method of birth control.
Reduce the Risk of Cancer
Breastfeeding has been shown to reduce the risk of certain types of cancer. Thanks to breastfeeding, moms who breastfeed tend to have fewer periods, which means they have less exposure to the hormone estrogen which reduces their chance of ovarian and uterine cancer.
While breastfeeding your breasts are less susceptible to mutation which is the leading cause of breast cancer. So, you will see the greatest benefit of this if you breastfeed for more than a year.
Here is a bit of research to support this:
One study4 conducted by the Collaborative Group on Hormonal Factors in Breast Cancer found that for every 12 months of breastfeeding, the risk of breast cancer in that mother decreased by 4.3%. This doesn’t necessarily have to be consecutively, either – it can be combined among multiple children.
Additional research5 discovered that women who breastfeed for more than 13 months were found to be 63% less likely to develop ovarian cancer. Those who breastfed longer than 31 months can possibly reduce the risk of ovarian cancer by 91% as compared to women who breastfed for less than 10 months.
In my opinion, this is one of the greatest health benefits of breastfeeding for mothers.
Can Help Aid Weight Loss
After having a baby, we all would love a little help losing that extra weight we gained. Producing breast milk burns some major calories, even while you sleep!
Not every woman experiences this, though, and many experience the opposite. Here are a couple of posts that may be helpful on the topic:
- How to Lose Weight While Breastfeeding
- Does Breastfeeding Help You Lose Weight?
This might not be your favorite benefit of breastfeeding for moms, but typically you will see an increase in breast size. Sometimes this can be an increase to 1-2 cups even! So, be sure to wear a supportive bra to help support your breasts to not cause you pain or discomfort.
Breastfeeding saves a lot of money – in most situations! While you may need to purchase a breast pump, bottles, work with a lactation consultant, etc., it typically costs less than formula.
Your time is important and valuable, so there is the “cost” of that to keep in mind.
Breastfeeding is convenient. It can take some time to figure out and get the hang of, but most breastfeeding mothers find it very convenient to breastfeed.
There are obviously situations that may be less convenient (including if you are pumping).
Improved Mental Health
There are many factors involved in mental health, but there appears to be a link between breastfeeding and improved maternal mental health conditions (such as anxiety and depression).
One systematic6 review of 339 articles/studies on this topic found this to be true. Breastfeeding increases oxytocin, which is a “feel good” hormone, which may be one of the reasons why.
Of course, all moms are susceptible with postpartum mood disorders, so even if you are breastfeeding, it’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms.
Help Others in Need
Many mothers choose to pump and donate milk to other mothers in need. Service can improve your mental health and general well-being. If you have an excess of breast milk, this can be a great opportunity while you breastfeed. Here are some resources that might be helpful:
I hope you found these breastfeeding benefits helpful! Please leave other helpful breastfeeding benefits in the comments!
1 – Abedi, Parvin et al. “Breastfeeding or nipple stimulation for reducing postpartum haemorrhage in the third stage of labour.” The Cochrane database of systematic reviews vol. 2016,1 CD010845. 27 Jan. 2016, doi:10.1002/14651858.CD010845.pub2
4 – Collaborative Group on Hormonal Factors in Breast Cancer. “Breast cancer and breastfeeding: collaborative reanalysis of individual data from 47 epidemiological studies in 30 countries, including 50302 women with breast cancer and 96973 women without the disease.” Lancet (London, England) vol. 360,9328 (2002): 187-95. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(02)09454-0
5 – Dada Su and others, Ovarian cancer risk is reduced by prolonged lactation: a case-control study in southern China, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 97, Issue 2, February 2013, Pages 354–359, https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.112.044719
6 -Megan Yuen, Olivia J. Hall, Grace A. Masters, Benjamin C. Nephew, Catherine Carr, Katherine Leung, Adrienne Griffen, Lynne McIntyre, Nancy Byatt, and Tiffany A. Moore Simas.The Effects of Breastfeeding on Maternal Mental Health: A Systematic Review.Journal of Women’s Health.Jun 2022.787-807.http://doi.org/10.1089/jwh.2021.0504
More Articles You May Enjoy:
- 75+ Breastfeeding Tips for New Moms
- Breastfeeding vs Bottle Feeding – Pros and Cons
- Breastfeeding Your Newborn Baby: Everything You Need to Know
Katie Clark is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). She has helped thousands of mothers and families around the globe navigate breastfeeding challenges and questions since 2015. She has a passion for creating research-based, helpful breastfeeding education and helping parents find a way to make breastfeeding work for them. Katie is a mom of three little boys and lives in the great state of Colorado. She also has a degree in Communications with an emphasis in print journalism.