Why breastfeed?

The advantages for the mother

There are many advantages of breastfeeding for the mother.

  • During breastfeeding, the mother’s body produces prolactin, a hormone that, apart from being responsible for the production of milk, lessens the effect of other hormones that affect arterial pressure and mood.

The psychologist recommends . . .

Breastfeeding helps with the relaxation and psychophysical well-being of the mother, which, in turn, increase the bond of love with the baby. In women who breastfeed, in fact, the appearance of post-partum depression is less frequent, because the mother feels she has a more essential role in the growth of her baby.

  • The immediate contact with the baby (in the first minutes after birth) stimulates the production of another hormone, oxytocin, which accelerates the contraction of the uterus, helping it to return to its normal size and reducing the post-partum loss of blood.
  • Frequent breastfeeding, as the sole source of food, delays the return of the menstrual cycle, in this way allowing the mother’s body to increase its reserves of iron and avoid developing anemia.
  • Breastfeeding as the sole source of food, moreover, inhibits normal ovulation, therefore reducing fertility and thus the risk of another pregnancy.

The Obstetrician recommends . . .

It is however advisable to be very careful, especially towards the end of breast-feeding because ovulation could recommence without any obvious signs.

  • As it requires a greater consumption of energy, breastfeeding allows the mother to consume the fats accumulated during pregnancy – directly accumulated with breastfeeding in mind – and therefore to return to an ideal weight more easily.
  • Breastfeeding reduces the risk of ovary and breast cancer. An important piece of research published a few years ago in one of the most respected medical journals, “Lancet”, and carried out on about 150,000 women, concluded that breastfeeding reduces by over 65% the risk of illness through this type of cancer.*
  • Finally, if breastfeeding is responsible for the reduction in part of the calcium in the bones of the mother, during the weaning period, calcium increases again in the skeleton of the woman in a more stable form, reducing the risk of hip breakage and osteoporosis in the menopause period in women who have breast-fed.

* Collaborative Group on Hormonal Factors in Breast Cancer. Lancet 2002; 360: 187-195

Article courtesy of Chicco.com Chiccopedia