Benefits of breastfeeding are usually discussed only in relation to baby’s nutrition, whereas, it is beyond nutrition and comparison with infant formula. In this light, I’ll like to share with you, nine intriguing and winning benefits of breastfeeding to the mother.
Breastfeeding essentially helps get your body back into shape because it aids the loss of extra fat gained during pregnancy, as the fat is used in the production of breastmilk. It also helps to reduce post-delivery bleeding by releasing hormones that trigger uterus’ return to its pre-pregnancy size— that slight pain felt during the first few days of breastfeeding.
For instance, I was unable to establish full lactation until five days after my first ever delivery. During those periods I was having copious vaginal bleeding though my family associated it with my rejection of the cultural practice of hot compresses. About three days after I started full lactation, the bleeding reduced significantly.
Not the cause of sagging.
Contrary to the widespread myth that breastfeeding causes breasts to sag, the fact is breasts will actually sag as you age and gravity also plays a role it’s sagging.
To reinforce this, it was found in a 2008 study published inAesthetic Surgery Journal that pregnancy, not breastfeeding worsen ptosis (breast sagging).
Because Allah says
He is the Creator and thus knows what is best for us
The mothers shall give suck to their children for two whole years, (that is) for those (parents) who desire to complete the term of suckling, but the father of the child shall bear the cost of the mother’s food and clothing on a reasonable basis. No person shall have a burden laid on him greater than he can bear. No mother shall be treated unfairly on account of her child, nor father on account of his child. And on the (father’s) heir is incumbent the like of that (which was incumbent on his father). If they both decide on weaning, by mutual consent, and after due consultation, there is no sin on them. And if you decide on a foster suckling-mother for your children, there is no sin on you, provided you pay (the mother) what you agreed (to give her) on reasonable basis. And fear Allah and know that Allah is All-Seer of what you do. [Al-Baqarah:233]
Prevention of osteoporosis
Although part of bone calcium is used during lactation, the bones return to pregnancy state and even stronger? within few months of weaning, thereby preventing osteoporosis, a bone disease of ageing.
It is a natural form of birth control
This is especially true for mothers that practice exclusive breastfeeding because breastfeeding delays ovulation and menstruation. Some mothers only resume menstruation a year after delivery.
Prevention of breast and ovarian cancer
There are structural changes in the breast associated with pregnancy and lactation. These changes, especially in those with a longer period of lactation prevent the development of breast cancer later in life, and the protection correlates with the duration of breastfeeding.
Also, development of ovarian cancer is closely related to exposure to oestrogen. Oestrogen release is significantly reduced during breastfeeding, thereby reducing chances of development of ovarian cancer
Prevents post-delivery depression and adjustment disorder
Apart from frequent contact—which aids bonding between mother and baby, lactation hormone—prolactin, has a calming effect on the mother and subsequent attachment to the baby. Also, the comforting effect of breast milk gives a psychological satisfaction of motherhood and attaches the baby to the mother, thereby reducing the risk of post-partum depression. But this is also true for negative experiences with breastfeeding.
During my earlier days immediately after delivery when I could not lactate, I was disturbed and felt I was depriving my baby as if it was my wish and looked at her with pity. When I started full lactation, I was delighted and became cheerful again.
It is less time consuming and cheaper.
With breastfeeding, you don’t have to spend money on expensive cans of formula or deal with washing utensils for feeding/processing infant formula. It gives more time for other productive engagement.
I was a student with time constraint when I first had a baby, and most times, I was breastfeeding my baby and reading simultaneously. Also, money that could have been used for infant formula or medical cost from illness was diverted to something else.
Overall, breastfeeding enhances short and long termgood physical and mental health to both baby and mother. By the time my baby was 15months of age, she already had the body physique as well as activity similar to a 2year old child. If I was seen breast feeding her then, the usual comment was why breastfeeding this grown up child and when I tell them her age, the next thing is, she is grown enough to be weaned. My usual response is; it is not about her alone but about us.
Which of the above benefits is/was evident in you as a nursing mother? Tell us your experience in the comments section below.
Sururat Adeniran is a medical doctor currently doing her one-year internship in Nigeria. She plans to specialise in Obstetrics and Gynaecology after her youth service due to her great passion for women and child health. You can find her here on Facebook.
DISCLAIMER: We recognise that some women are not able to breastfeed their babies even though they wish to, so this post is not to discredit mothers who for some reasons could not or would not breastfeed their baby.