In the early days of learning to breastfeed, there may be times when you feel like tossing in the nursing bra and reaching for a bottle. You may be tempted to believe those advisers who suggest that formula feeding is easier to just as good. Or you may worry that you’re “not the type of mother” who succeeds at breastfeeding. Yet when you consider how breastfeeding benefits your baby, your family, and yourself, you will find the determination you need to overcome any obstacles and master the womanly art of breastfeeding. What’s good for baby is also good for mother. When mothers follow nature’s lead and breastfeed their babies, their own bodies benefit–so do their budgets!
Breastfeeding Benefits for Mothers:
1. Reduces the risk of breast cancer. Women who breastfeed reduce their risk of developing breast cancer by as much as 25 percent. The reduction in cancer risk comes in proportion to the cumulative lifetime duration of breastfeeding. That is, the more months or years a mother breastfeeds, the lower her risk of breast cancer.
2. Reduces the risk of uterine and ovarian cancer. One of the reasons for the cancer-fighting effects of breastfeeding is that estrogen levels are lower during lactation. It is thought that the less estrogen available to stimulate the lining of the uterus and perhaps breast tissue also, the less the risk of these tissues becoming cancerous.
3. Lessens osteoporosis. Non-breastfeeding women have a four times greater chance of developing osteoporosis than breastfeeding women and are more likely to suffer from hip fractures in the post-menopausal years.
4. Benefits child spacing. Since breastfeeding delays ovulation, the longer a mother breastfeeds the more she is able to practice natural child spacing, if she desires. How long a woman remains infertile depends on her baby’s nursing pattern and her own individual baby.
5. Promotes emotional health. Not only does breastfeeding benefit a mother’s body, it also benefits her mind. Studies show that breastfeeding mothers show less postpartum anxiety and depression than do formula-feeding mothers.
6. Promotes postpartum weight loss. Breastfeeding mothers showed significantly larger reductions in hip circumference and more fat loss by one month postpartum when compared with formula-feeding moms. Breastfeeding mothers tend to have an earlier return to their pre-pregnancy weight.
7. Costs less to breastfeed. It costs around $1,200 a year to formula-feed your baby. Even taking into consideration the slight increase in food costs to a breastfeeding mother, the American Academy of Pediatrics estimates that a breastfeeding mother will save around $400 during the first year of breastfeeding.