(Were you searching for information about the benefits of breastfeeding for your baby instead? Click here for information about breastfeeding benefits for your baby .)
I loved breastfeeding. It was so convenient to not have to worry about washing and sterilizing bottles, or worrying whether I had enough formula left or needed a quick run to the shops. Let alone trying to find somewhere to warm up the milk while I was out!
I found out too that there's also quite a lot of things that make breastfeeding mothers healthier than those who have to use formula.
The latest research from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that longer duration of breastfeeding and breastfeeding more children lead to a significantly lower risk of ovarian cancer!!
The hormones released during breastfeeding, particularly oxytocin,help your uterus to contract back to it's normal size. This was a breastfeeding benefit I adn't counted on. I was amazed that after only a week or so my belly was back to pretty much what it had been prior to pregnancy! (I did have a great diet during pregnancy which you can find out about here)
Breastfeeding also helps the body to expel the placenta. I've had one porr friend who had some retained placenta (they never tell you the horror stories before you give birth). The poor love had zero energy levels, felt like she had the flu and was still bleeding more than six weeks later when they eventually realised she still had some there... She had to have a curette!
Another awesome breastfeeding benefit is that you're less likely to develop post natal depression. I've seen a few mothers who did get PND. It's pretty full on. It happens because your huge hormone levels from pregnancy suddenly drop off and your brain doesn't cope with the new lowered levels. (Did you know anxiety is one of the signs of lowered progesterone levels too?)
In the long term, you are also less likely to develop type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis,high blood pressure, and cancer of the breast, ovary, cervix or endometrium (the part of the uterus that bleeds). I'm feeling pretty lucky right now that everything went smoothly for me with my breastfeeding journey!
Breastfeeding also has a contraceptive effect (though post natal women should be cautious about using this as a sole means of contraception if they are not yet ready to conceive another baby as it is not foolproof and in most cases only works for those feeding at least every three hours, including night feeds). Though this may not be what you are after, this contraceptive effect also means there will be a longer gap before your menstrual cycle returns.
I was so pleased - mine didn't return til my baby was one year old! I must admit though he was certainly one to breastfeed overnight once or twice til he was 8 months old and this is supposed to really help keep your fertility down.
I was also really pleased that when I started back at work when my little guy was 7 months old he didn't get sick at all! Studies show that brastfeeding mothers will have less days off work due her baby being sick as breastfed babies fall ill less frequently.
There is also the expense of buying formula. New parents can save anywhere The monetary benefits of breastfeeding range from $1000-$4000 per year if you are not having to buy formula. This is fairly significant if there is less money being earned for the household.
Recent research shows that breastfeeding mothers are more likely to eat extra vegetables!
Breastfeeding is a really easy way to calm your baby too, so you end up less stressed (which is helped by the release of all your let down hormones which help to decrease stress too, and to help you sleep better!)
Are you feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all?
Click here for some "been there done that" tips for
adjusting to your new life as a mother.