Breastfeeding has health benefits for mothers and their babies.

Positive Effects of Breastfeeding

by Melody Causewell

Breastfeeding can have many positive benefits for infants. Yet, mothers benefit from the nursing relationship as well. Positive effects of breastfeeding on nursing mothers may include decreased cancer risk, lower rates of postpartum depression, less postpartum blood loss and increased weight loss following childbirth.

1. Decreased Cancer Risk

According to 2009 research in "Reviews in Obstetrics and Gynecology," mothers who breastfeed may have decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancers. While this report noted that some previous studies on breast cancer and nursing were inconclusive, they did find a stronger link between decreased ovarian cancer rates and breastfeeding. Not only does breastfeeding provide nutrition for the child, but it may have a protective effect against maternal cancers down the road.

2. Less Postpartum Depression

Research from the "International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine" indicates that mothers who breastfeed have reduced rates of postpartum depression over the first four months after childbirth. These findings were supported by research in the "Iranian Journal of Psychiatry," which found that nursing mothers were less depressed than their formula feeding counterparts and that breastfeeding may reduce postpartum depression symptoms. Because postpartum depression can affect quality of life for new mothers nationwide, this positive benefit of breastfeeding cannot be overlooked.

3. Decreased Postpartum Blood Loss

According to research in "Clinics in Perinatology," postpartum blood loss is less among breastfeeding mothers because of increases in uterine contractions. Furthermore, maintaining nutrient rich blood levels may help prevent postpartum anemia related to blood loss, according to research from "Annals of Hematology." This relationship is one reason that maintaining physical health postpartum may be helped by maintaining breastfeeding.

4. Weight Loss

According to 2005 research in the "Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine," mothers who breastfeed tend to lose pregnancy weight faster postpartum when compared to those who use other feeding methods. While babies gain weight, mothers tend to shed the pounds they gained during pregnancy. With so many struggling to get down to pre-pregnancy weights, it may be helpful to educate new mothers about this added benefit of breastfeeding.

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