More evidence that breastfeeding benefits moms

    The health benefits of breastfeeding for babies are pretty well known but experts say many moms don’t realize that nursing is a boon for their own health, too.

    The health benefits of breastfeeding for babies are pretty well known but experts say many moms don’t realize that nursing is a boon for their own health, too.

    A new University of Pittsburgh study found that mothers who don’t breastfeed have a higher risk for developing diabetes later in life, compared to women who do nurse.

    Study author Dr. Eleanor Bimla Schwarz:

    Schwarz: The body puts on fat while it’s preparing to feed a new infant that it expects will come off when the baby is breastfed, and if a baby isn’t breastfed then that fat stays on a mother’s belly and that belly fat increases a mother’s risk of diabetes.

    Prior studies have shown that the longer a mother breastfeeds, the lower her risk for developing diabetes, high cholesterol, heart attacks or stroke. Schwarz wanted to figure out how little a mom needs to breastfeed to actually get those health benefits. She says nursing for just a month can protect a mother’s health.

    Schwarz:
    While more breastfeeding is clearly better both for the mom’s health and the baby’s health. What we can say from this study is that that first month of a baby’s life is particularly important in terms of the mom’s recovery from pregnancy and helping her body heal from all that it’s been through.

    The Schwarz study is published in the September 2010 issue of the American Journal of Medicine. It adds to older evidence that breastfeeding reduces a mother’s risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

    Marsha Walker, policy director for the U.S. Lactation Consultant Association, says new moms are often told about the benefits of breastfeeding for their infants, but aren’t regularly counseled on the advantages for their own health.

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