Breastfeeding has Lasting Benefits for Mom

I was well equipped to breast feed. (Um…) Having worked at the March of Dimes for the absurd number of months I was pregnant, I had the benefits of breastfeeding drilled into my brain. The organization also gave me a free Medela Breast Pump (value – $300) and a boxful of What to Expect books. They even had a breastfeeding consultant contact me and offer pep talks. Even then, I was half-hearted about the whole concept. My new pal Dr. Laura would shake a stick at me for that. But I was big and uncomfortable and looking forward to having my body back. Yes, it is a beautiful thing to be pregnant and to know you are sustaining a little life inside. I think nursing must feel even more beautiful. But still.

518061639_b07e31a86cI didn’t breast feed. I’m not blaming it on being high as a hippy for days after my difficult delivery or the absent breast Nazis who never taught me that “latching on” secret or even the breast pump that sucked not one drop of anything from these breasts. I tried a little. And then I just gave up.

Looking back, do I regret it? Of course. Especially when I hear more and more stories of the far-reaching benefits of breast milk for children. I want my son to have the best in this world. He is my life.

Now there is evidence that breastfeeding can be just as beneficial to mothers as well. According to a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine study, touted as one of the largest and longest-running investigations of its kind, women who breast-fed for two years or more had a 23 percent lower risk of heart attack. The same study also showed that women who nursed had a lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, with a 15 percent lower risk per year of breast-feeding.

“Is it the lifestyle of nursing mothers or the milk itself?” asks Alison Stuebe, M.D., assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UNC Chapel Hill who lead the study. “These questions are hard to answer in observational studies. But the protective aspects of breastfeeding are becoming clear.”

Photo, Flickr, honey-bee

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