Breastfeeding provides ‘significant’ long-term health benefits to mothers

Stock image | Photo by tatyana_tomsickova/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

FEATURE — Most women are basically familiar with the benefits a baby gets from breastfeeding: It provides bonding and passage of antibodies to prevent infection, not to mention it’s an ideal source of nutrition for most babies.

But did you know breastfeeding can actually help you lose weight? It takes an extra 500 kcal per day to do. Each pound of body fat has 3500 kcal. That’s a pound off per week. Nice.

Looking at the bigger picture, women who have breastfed their babies have some pretty significant long-term health benefits.

According to a committee opinion by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, some of those benefits include the following.

Lowered heart attack risk

Women who breastfeed see a 37 percent decrease in heart attack risk. Given that a third of women die from heart disease, anything that reduces risk this much is worth considering.

Lowered cancer risk

Women who breastfeed see a possible reduction in the following cancers:

  • 26 percent decrease in breast cancer.
  • 26 percent decrease in endometrial cancer.
  • 37 percent decrease in ovarian cancer.

Decrease in Type 2 diabetes

This benefit increases more for every total year of breastfeeding.

In spite of all this potential benefit, don’t feel guilty if breastfeeding just isn’t for you. It just doesn’t work for some women. But for mothers who are not sure if it is worth the time and hassle, this may be enough to tilt you toward giving breastfeeding a try.

There are no known risks to a woman’s health or a baby’s health caused by breastfeeding, so it is definitely something all women who have childbirth in their future should strongly consider.

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