Breastfeeding and Breast Cancer
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time in America when there's heightened awareness about breast wellness and sharing about support for those affected by breast cancer. While much of the focus rightly centers on early detection and treatment, it's also crucial to acknowledge the role breastfeeding can play in maternal well-being and breast health. Breastfeeding offers numerous benefits to both moms and babies, and it's an often under-discussed topic to consider.
The Breastfeeding and Breast Cancer Connection: Breastfeeding is more than just a method of nourishing your baby; it's a powerful ally in promoting maternal health. Here's a closer look at how breastfeeding can be beneficial to moms:
1. Reduced Breast Cancer Risk:
- Research suggests that breastfeeding can reduce a woman's risk of developing breast cancer. It may help by delaying the return of menstrual periods following birth and reducing a woman's lifetime exposure to hormones like estrogen, which can promote certain types of breast cancer.
2. Lower Risk of Ovarian Cancer:
- Breastfeeding not only benefits breast health, but also contributes to a lower risk of ovarian cancer. Studies have shown a correlation that the longer a mom breastfeeds over her lifetime, the more significant the protective effect against ovarian cancer.
3. Faster Postpartum Recovery:
- Breastfeeding stimulates the release of oxytocin, a hormone that helps the uterus contract and return to its pre-pregnancy size more quickly. It's critical for moms' body to re-establish itself, as the orientation of pregnancy can only be sustained for a finite time safely. This is one of the many ways to a healthier postpartum recovery for moms.
4. Weight Management:
- Breastfeeding burns a lot of extra calories! The body's inherent complexity of breastfeeding is truly remarkable. This contributes to the post-pregnancy weight loss factor, which involves the uterus returning to its pre-pregnancy size. This organ shrinkage occurs more swiftly thanks to chain-reaction system of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding can make moms feel hungrier than before, and that's a healthy sign! Moms need to feed the machine that is their body working at a higher capacity while breastfeeding. A well-informed nourishment plan for mom is essential to her optimal recovery from birth.
5. Emotional Well-Being:
- The bond formed during breastfeeding can enhance emotional well-being for both mom and baby. During feedings, moms body actively releases oxytocin (the happy/love hormone) which promotes feelings of relaxation and bonding with the newborn. These regular encounters can reduce stress levels and counter the release of cortisol (the stress hormone). In turn, recovery can be more productive for mom and intimate connection (aka bonding) with the newborn is established.
6. Economic Benefits:
- Breastfeeding also has fiscal advantages. By breastfeeding, families can save money on formula costs, increased sick visits to the pediatrician and the accompanying medical expenses to remedy. Committed breastfeeding contributes to a growing family's long-term financial wellness.
7. Long-Term Health Benefits:
- The benefits of breastfeeding extend beyond the postpartum period. Studies repeatedly suggest that breastfeeding offers long-term protection against chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Breastfeeding is not only a healthful way to nourish your baby, but also a proactive step in promoting a mom's health. During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we can celebrate the remarkable benefits of breastfeeding, including a reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancer, expedited postpartum recovery, emotional well-being, and long-term health advantages. Breastfeeding doesn't come easily to most moms, however. It's not her job alone - it necessitates the support of the community at large. By supporting breastfeeding overall, we empower moms to take charge of their well-being and reduce their risk of these diseases, contributing to a healthier future for us all.