We know breastfeeding is great for your baby. But breastfeeding can be good for moms, too -- and we're still finding out new health benefits. You probably already know that breastfeeding helps you bond with your baby more, supposedly burns extra calories, can give you a mood boost, and even lowers your chances of some illnesses.
So a new study published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology asks the question -- if 90 percent of new moms in the U.S. breastfed, how would that benefit us? Not the babies -- the moms. What kind of health benefits would we get, and how much would we save in health costs? The answers paint a dramatic picture.
- There would be 53,000 fewer cases of high blood pressure
- There would be 14,000 fewer cases of heart attack.
- There would be almost 5,000 fewer cases of breast cancer.
- We could save $17.4 billion in costs from premature deaths.
I had no idea breastfeeding was linked to lower blood pressure. So with all these benefits, will getting the word out change women's decisions to breastfeed? I think it's helpful to know this -- but I don't know.
We're kind of funny about information -- having more of it doesn't usually motivate us to make different choices. Not information alone, anyway. And if those health benefits are abstract (your blood pressure isn't going to plummet THE DAY you start breastfeeding), that makes them even less motivating. Plus, moms have been known to put everyone else's needs first, sometimes above even our own health.
What makes people change is making it easier for people to change. So while this is all great for us to know, what women who might breastfeed really need are the usual: Clean places to nurse and pump including at work, free lactation consultants, and support from friends and families. Maybe the people who really need to pay attention to this study aren't moms -- it's the people who have the power to help make breastfeeding easier for moms.
Are you surprised at these health benefits for breastfeeding?
Image via Summer/Flickr