Breastfeeding is a beautiful and natural time for bonding between mother and child. It helps the baby by giving it nourishment and stronger immunity from the mother, and it can even help the mom by reducing the risk of postpartum depression, increasing post-pregnancy weight loss, and even reducing the chances of anemia.
This miraculous moment between mom and infant also helps the mother’s heart. New research shows that breastfeeding is linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease in mothers.
Bonding and healing time
A meta-analysis was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association (JAHA), an open access, peer-reviewed journal of the American Heart Association. Researchers looked at the health information from eight studies between 1986 and 2009 in Australia, China, Norway, Japan, the United States, and one multinational study. This review involved the health records of over 1.2 million women from different backgrounds.
The research found that 82 percent of participating women reported that they breastfed their children, and they had an 11 percent decreased risk of developing cardiovascular disease. After a follow-up period of 10 years, women who breastfeed were 14 percent less likely to develop coronary heart disease, 12 percent less likely to suffer strokes, and 17 percent less likely to die from cardiovascular disease. Additionally, there were no notable differences in risk of cardiovascular disease among women of different ages.
Improving mothers’ health
While organizations like the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that mothers breastfeed for the child’s health and their own, only one in four children receive breastmilk in the first six months of their lives. Black mothers in the United States are particularly less likely to breastfeed their children, contributing to the high rate of childbirth and motherhood health issues in the country, especially among people of color.
“While the benefits of breastfeeding for infants and children are well established, mothers should be further encouraged to breastfeed their infants knowing that they are improving the health of their child and improving their own health as well,” said Shelley Miyamoto, M.D., FAHA, chair of the American Heart Association’s Council on Lifelong Congenital Heart Disease and Heart Health in the Young (Young Hearts).
“Raising awareness regarding the multifaceted benefits of breastfeeding could be particularly helpful to those mothers who are debating breast vs. bottle feeding… It should be particularly empowering for a mother to know that by breastfeeding she is providing the optimal nutrition for her baby while simultaneously lowering her personal risk of heart disease.”