The Maternal Health Benefits of Breastfeeding

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Jane’s Friday Thoughts are a collection of entries on the state of modern maternity from OB-GYN and Maven Medical Director, Jane van Dis.

Nothing in pregnancy compares to the struggles of breastfeeding. Around 85% of my patients struggle with it-- even with the basics, such as latch, leaking, cluster feeding, and supply (too much or too little). Having said that, the good news is that more women are breastfeeding, despite all its challenges. Breastfeeding rates have increased substantially. From 2000-2015, breastfeeding rates at 12 months of infant age went from 16% to 36%, and the proportion of babies who had ever breastfed went from 71% to 83%. When we think about breastfeeding and its health benefits we often think about the benefits to the baby, but there are some amazing health benefits for mothers, too!

Benefits of breastfeeding: Why it matters

·     Breastfeeding reduces mothers’  lifetime risk of diabetes by up to 69%

·      It reduces mothers’ risk of developing hypertension by 12%

·      It reduces mothers’  risk for myocardial infarction by 37%

·      It reduces mothers’ risk of developing breast cancer by 26%

·      It reduces mothers’ risk for developing ovarian cancer by 37%

·      It reduces mothers’ risk for endometrial (uterine) cancer by 26%

·      Breastfeeding helps women lose weight after pregnancy

·      It helps the uterus return to normal faster after pregnancy

·      It reduces maternal responses to stress

·      It might decrease the risk for postpartum depression

How Maven can help

Maven takes breastfeeding, combination feeding, pumping and return to work very seriously. Many families might get a visit or two from a lactation consultant while in the hospital after delivery, but many still find they need more support when they arrive home and are on their own. Maven provides access to on-demand lactation consultations (with an invaluable video component), so that breastfeeding parents can get support on topics like latch, milk supply, and feeding schedules, as well as more complicated questions, such as, "Do I have mastitis [painful infection of the breast tissue] or a clogged duct?" Maven's lactation consultants are also often key sources of support as families transition back to work. They can also help with questions around pumping, supplementing with infant formula, breastfeeding and travel, weaning, and moving to solid foods.

 

Bottom line

Breastfeeding can be one of the most joyous experiences of postpartum, and one of the most challenging. Luckily, Maven is here to support women and families throughout the entire process. The benefits of breastfeeding for mom (and, of course, baby!) are too good to miss out on.

 

More reading

Optimizing Support for Breastfeeding as Part of Obstetric Practice

ACOG

 

Take care,

Jane