Chalk up another one for breastfeeding?
You may have heard that “breast is best” for newborns, but what about for mom?
“We so often think of how important breastfeeding and human milk is for the baby, we lose sight of the benefits to the mom,” says Lucinda Edgren-Gebhardt, a lactation consultant at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill.
A new study, published in the Journal of Women’s Health, found that breastfeeding for more than six months was associated with a smaller waist size in the decade following delivery.
A group of 678 women participated in the study 7-15 years after delivery. Those who reported breastfeeding for six months or less had an average waist circumference of 3.5 centimeters larger than those who reported breastfeeding for greater than six months.
Waist circumference can be a health risk indicator for heart disease, high blood pressure and more.
“Heart disease is often thought of as a ‘man’s disease’, even though it is the leading cause of death for women,” says Karen Shinnville, lactation consultant at Advocate BroMenn. “More research showing how women can reduce heart disease risk is a real plus for women’s health. Breastfeeding does help moms to lose excess fat acquired during pregnancy. Breastfeeding moms can burn up to 500 additional calories per day due to increased metabolism required for milk production – that’s the equivalent of jogging five miles on a treadmill!”
Edgren-Gebhardt adds, “In addition to smaller waist circumference, breastfeeding has been said to reduce the rate of certain breast cancers and osteoporosis for the mother.”
About the Author
Lynn Hutley, health enews contributor, is coordinator of public affairs and marketing at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center and Advocate Eureka Hospital in central Illinois. Having grown up in a family-owned drug store, it is no surprise that Lynn has spent almost 18 years working in the health care industry. She has a degree in human resources management from Illinois State University and is always ready to tackle Trivia Night.