What is Good for Baby can be Heart Healthy for Mom

Healthcare providers encourage new mothers to try breastfeeding their baby because of the benefits for the newborn. Researchers have found that breastfeeding is also very beneficial to the mother as well.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study in July 2021 that shows breastfeeding can reduce the mother’s risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and both breast and ovarian cancer. The numbers bear out that mothers who breastfed their newborns have a lower incidence of some cancers and type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure was also less common for breastfeeding mothers.

Before the baby arrives

Maggie Stanley of Shore Physicians Group’s OB/GYN Midwifery practice said she encourages expectant mothers to breastfeed at their initial appointment and continues to reinforce it throughout pregnancy to initiate education as well as readiness. “We also hope to identify any barriers or misconceptions that the expectant mother may have about breastfeeding,” added Stanley.

International Board Certified Lactation Consultant Lauren Matalucci of Shore Medical Center said for new moms who may be hesitant to breastfeed, “We always let our patients know that we support all infant feeding choices. But we do promote breastfeeding as it is an ideal nutrition for infants, and provides so many benefits to the newborn and well as the mother.”

Advantages to the newborn

Midwife Joanna McGrath of Shore Physicians Group OB/GYN said breastfeeding brings tremendous advantages to the newborn baby including a reduced incidence of asthma, allergies, respiratory illness, ear infections, obesity and type 2 diabetes. “Also, the breast milk composition actually changes to meet the optimal nutrition demands of a growing infant,” said McGrath.

“The advantages to the newborn are vast,” said Matalucci. “Just a few include increased brain development, a lower risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and it aids in the development of the infant’s immune system. When a mother is exposed to certain viruses or diseases, the mother will produce extra antibodies to be transferred to the baby through her milk.”

New mothers benefit as well from breastfeeding

“Primarily, bonding is facilitated through breastfeeding,” said Stanley. “Not to say mothers who bottle feed do not bond with their baby – of course they do – but the skin-to-skin contact of breastfeeding is paramount to promote bonding.” Other advantages to the breastfeeding mother include the extra 400-500 calories burned daily and the oxytocin that is released to shrink the uterus back to pre-pregnancy size, according to Stanley.

Breastfeeding in some cases will delay the start of the mother’s period after the birth of the baby, but not always. It is also linked to a decrease in the risk of early menopause, according to McGrath. The theory is, slowing of egg loss during pregnancy and breastfeeding delays menopause.

According to research, lactation decreases the insulin levels in the blood due to decreased glucose present in the blood. There is evidence that lactation also decreases the activity of the pancreatic cells which preserves their function.

Breastfeeding and stress

According to Matalucci, the hormone oxytocin that is secreted when breastfeeding naturally lowers the stress response. Breastfeeding mothers also have a natural contraceptive and experience a lower incidence of post-partum depression.

Convenience is a big advantage

When the newborn is screaming in the middle of the night because they are hungry, breastfeeding is a convenient fix. “It is right there, it is the right temperature and it is free,” added Matalucci. “There are no bottles to wash, or formula to mix or warm up and it is eco-friendly.”

Stanley added, “Ideally women should exclusively breastfeed for six months as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. With expectant mothers, we emphasize that any amount of time breastfeeding is preferable to no breastfeeding.”

Statistically, about 80% of new mothers will try breastfeeding, according to Matalucci, who is also a childbirth educator and Director of Shore Beginnings: Prenatal and Wellness program. “Many, however, choose not to continue for various reasons. It is important for all new breastfeeding mothers to have bountiful support. In the hospital setting and beyond, I provide patients with breastfeeding education, correct latch and position techniques and what to expect during their breastfeeding journey. We support all infant feeding choices, but promote breastfeeding as it is an ideal nutrition for infants, providing benefits for both the baby and the mother.”

Top 20 Reasons to Breastfeed Your Baby

  1. Breastfeeding promotes bonding between mother and baby.
  2. Breast milk provides perfect infant nutrition.
  3. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of ovarian and breast cancer.
  4. Breastfeeding is associated with a higher I.Q. in infants.
  5. Breast milk contains immunities to diseases and aids in the development of the baby’s immune system.
  6. Breast milk is more digestible than formula.
  7. Nursing helps mom lose weight after the baby is born.
  8. Breastfeeding reduces the chances of baby developing allergies/asthma.
  9. The DHEA, (a hormone produced in the adrenal gland to make androgens and estrogens) in human breast milk cannot be replicated.
  10. Breastfeeding reduces the baby’s risk of ear infections.
  11. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of the development of type 2 diabetes.
  12. Breast milk is always available and always the right temperature.
  13. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.
  14. Breastfeeding protects baby against vision defects.
  15. Breastfed babies are statistically healthier than formula fed babies.
  16. Breastfeeding is a natural contraceptive.
  17. Breastfeeding helps reduce the infant’s risk of obesity later in life.
  18. Breastfeeding becomes less time-consuming than bottle feeding.
  19. Breast milk is free. (The average cost of formula for the first year of life is $2,000)
  20. It is what babies were designed for.

To learn more about Shore Physicians Group’s new OB/GYN and Midwifery practice or to make an appointment with Certified Nurse Midwives Joanna McGrath or Maggie Stanley, call 609-365-5300.

For more information on the benefits of breastfeeding, lactation support, or for any questions contact Shore Beginnings: Prenatal and Wellness at 609-653-3500 x 2860.