Breastfeeding or chestfeeding is so much more than just a method of providing nutrients to your infant. In fact, the benefits of breastfeeding go way beyond the baby. There are numerous maternal benefits to breastfeeding that they may not talk about in your typical childbirth class. These benefits are physical, emotional, and spiritual. Let’s talk about them now.
The physical benefits of breastfeeding start almost as soon as the baby is born. In an instinctive birth where the baby is immediately placed on the birthing person’s belly, babies are known to initiate what we refer to as the breast crawl. The breast crawl serves as nature’s uterine massage. Additionally, breastfeeding can stimulate additional uterine surges. The massage and surges will help release the placenta, return the uterus to its pre-birth size, and minimize the possibility of a severe postpartum hemorrhage – all important aspects of physical health in the immediate postpartum period.
Another physical benefit of breastfeeding you may experience is weight loss. While we hope that you love your post-pregnancy body for all that it is and all that it has done to grow and birth your baby, we know that many women look forward to “getting their body back”. An individual who just birthed a baby should be resting and healing during the Golden Month, so you may be wondering how laying around with your baby can lead to weight loss. In addition to the physical benefits of helping the uterus and placenta, breastfeeding burns a lot of calories (approximately 500-700 calories per day according to La Leche League). Therefore, breastfeeding in itself is a workout that some women express helps them get back to their pre-baby weight.
Breastfeeding has also been shown to reduce the risk of the following conditions in women:
- Breast Cancer
- Ovarian Cancer
- Type 2 Diabetes
- High Blood Pressure
Skin-to-skin contact and, more specifically, skin-to-skin breastfeeding is an activity that sends signals to your brain to produce several hormones. These hormones include:
All of these hormones impact how we feel physically and emotionally. Oxytocin (the love hormone) is, however, the hormone we would like to talk about. When you breastfeed, your body releases this hormone, which gives you feel-good (loving) emotions and helps strengthen that bond between you and your baby. It also helps reduce the risk of developing postpartum depression.
How HypnoBirthing® Supports Breastfeeding
HypnoBirthing is based on the principle that it is reasonable to believe that healthy women, with healthy babies, and healthy pregnancies can instinctively birth without pain or peril. We apply the same principle to breastfeeding. Clearly, most new parents expect the same as reports by the CDC claim that 84.1% of U.S. infants were breastfed at some point. Yet, only 58.3% of those babies are still being fed breastmilk at the 6-month mark and only 25.6 of those babies are exclusively breastfed at 6 months.
Throughout our 5-week series, we explore how the physiology of your body, your birth, and your baby are all perfectly designed to support not just the birthing process, but also the emotional, physical, and spiritual health of you and your baby once your baby is born. We also explore how birthing persons, their partners, and their whole team can support a healthy breastfeeding journey so that mom and baby can reap all of the benefits of breastfeeding!