Important health benefits of breast feeding and lactation have been described for mothers, these include:
- Decreases postpartum bleeding.1
- Encourages contraction of the uterus after birth.6
- Breast feeding may help the mother to return to her pre-pregnancy weight.1
- Breast feeding is associated with a reduced risk of developing pre-menopausal breast cancer and ovarian cancer.1
- Breast feeding may reduce the risk of osteoporosis and hip fracture later in life.1
- A baby sucks at a mother’s breast for comfort and, of course, for milk. Milk “let-down” is a reflex response to the suckling and kneading of the nipple (and sometimes in response to the sight, smell, and sound of the baby).
- It is ultimately affected by the secretion of oxytocin, a hormone secreted by the pituitary gland.7
- Breast milk is readily available at the exact temperature and does not need time to prepare.
- History of lactation is associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.8,9
Breast milk provides the optimal nutrition for infants in their first 6 months of life and in addition to complementary foods thereafter.