It is now widely understood that breastfeeding is best for babies. The nutritional advantage, along with the opportunity to bond, are just two benefits for babies. But research shows there is yet another reason to nurse your baby, and that is the tremendous health benefits it offers moms.
Older studies have proven that women who breastfeed are at lower risk for breast and ovarian cancers, type 2 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis. They also have better cardiovascular health.
Now the New York Times has profiled two new studies that highlight other ways mothers can benefit from breastfeeding. One was published last month in the journal Annals of Oncology. It showed breastfeeding lowered a woman’s risk of an aggressive form of breast cancer. The other, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, indicates breastfeeding may given women a post-pregnancy reset of their metabolism, which helps women who suffered from gestational diabetes avoid becoming lifelong diabetics.
Dr. Marisa Weiss, author of the study, told the newspaper:
The breast gland is immature and unable to do its job — which is to make milk — until it goes through the bat mitzvah of a full-term pregnancy. Breast-feeding forces the breasts to finally grow up and get a job, and make milk, and show up for work every day and every night, and stop fooling around.
The study on breast cancer reviewed dozens of studies of almost 40,000 cancer patients throughout the world. It determined that breastfeeding reduced by almost 20 percent the risk of hormone receptor negative tumors, a particularly vicious breast cancer that targets primarily African-American and younger women.
Some scientists have referred to breastfeeding as the “fourth trimester” of pregnancy, because they believe it completes the reproductive cycle, restoring a woman’s body to its pre-pregnancy state.