Breastfeeding campaigns have always emphasized the benefits of breast milk to babies. Described as a near perfect mix of vitamins, proteins, and fat, breast milk teems with antibodies that protect babies from viruses and bacteria. But moms also get several perks from breastfeeding, according to experts.
“The beauty of breastfeeding is that it’s just as advantageous to moms,” says Carla Victoria Espina-Castro, MD at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology of Makati Medical Center.
In celebration of National Breastfeeding Awareness Month this August, Dr. Castro cites what breastfeeding does for mothers:
It helps you lose weight. “Breastfeeding burns about 500 calories a day—that’s roughly the equivalent of a large snack,” Dr. Castro points out. “That’s about a pound a week or four pounds per month.”
It gives you happy hormones. According to Dr. Castro, “Breastfeeding triggers the release of prolactin (which gives mothers a peaceful, nurturing sensation) and oxytocin (which makes moms feel a strong sense of love and bonding between them and their baby). Oxytocin also helps your uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size and reduces uterine bleeding after birth.”
It fortifies your health. “Breastfeeding boosts your immune system, making you less prone to developing a host of conditions in your later years—type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and osteoporosis,” she explains.
It’s free. “Formula costs a lot and takes time to prepare,” says Dr. Castro.
It’s a unique experience. While mothers have talked about the frustration of getting their baby to latch onto their nipple and the pain that comes with nursing, much has also been written and said about the undeniable connection that mother and child feel during breastfeeding.
“Many have called it a privilege and an accomplishment,” shares Dr. Castro. “But as natural as it is, breastfeeding is also an act that a mother learns day by day.”
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