A study published in the February issue of a major ob-gyn journal analyzed data on breastfeeding from the Nurses Health Study. The 89,000 + women who breast-fed over the course of the study time had a 20 percent reduction in heart attack if they breast-fed 23 months or more during their lifetimes. Breast-feeding less than a total of 23 months was also protective against heart disease, but did not offer as much protection (e.g. 11 months total breastfeeding reduced risk of heart attack by about 10 percent).
Children who are breast-fed have lower rates of obesity and diabetes…
…in addition to reducing child-hood infections, respiratory illnesses, and childhood cancers such as leukemia. Breast-fed infants have a 21% reduction in mortality between 1 and 12 months of age, compared to infants who are not breast-fed.
So you can protect two hearts, not just one, with breast-feeding…
your own and that of your child.
How Does Breast-Feeding Reduce Heart Disease?
Breast-feeding hormones (oxytocin and prolactin) reduce maternal blood pressure and induce a sensation of relaxation during breast-feeding.
Breast-feeding also has a lasting effect on increasing the good cholesterol (HDL) that protects against heart attack.
Breast-feeding preferentially redistributes fat away from the abdomen, back and hips, thus contributing to a decreased rate of “metabolic syndrome” (central fat deposition, increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease).
Learn the basics of initiating breast-feeding and how to trouble-shoot breast-feeding problems: Check out Chapter 9 of DIY Baby: Your Essential Pregnancy Handbook.