Study: Breastfeeding has long term health benefits for mother

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by JIM BERGAMO / KVUE News and photojournalist John Fisher and editor Rob Diaz

Bio | Email | Follow: @JimB_KVUE

kvue.com

Posted on September 26, 2013 at 6:24 PM

Updated Friday, Sep 27 at 4:00 PM

AUSTIN -- It's widely known that breastfeeding is highly beneficial for babies. Now researchers have found it has long term health benefits for the mother as well.

British researchers followed nearly a million women 50-64 years of age. They found breastfeeding not only impacts a woman's weight later in life, but it can reduce the risk of obesity and diabetes. Breastfeeding also helps new moms lose weight faster.

Bennett Keonings isn't even two weeks old. If his mother Ashley has her way, she'll be breastfeeding him for a year -- just as she did her first son.

"It was just something I wanted to do for the nutritional value for my sons," said Ashley. "Also just for the time we would have together and the bonding experience."

But there's also a benefit for Ashley -- weight loss.

"It was pretty quick to notice," she said. "My doctor would make a comment and it would kind of click."

It's widely known that breastfeeding is highly beneficial for babies. Now researchers have found it has long term health benefits for the mother as well.
"Your body during breastfeeding releases a hormone called Pitocin," said Ginger Truitt, M.D., Obstetrics and Gynecology with the Renaissance Women’s Group. "That actually helps the uterus contract and shrink back to its normal size."

How does that lead to lasting weight loss? Truitt says when a woman is pregnant she requires an increased caloric intake -- about 300 calories per day.

"But breastfeeding actually requires more calories to provide milk for your infant," said Truitt. "So the number of calories required to breastfeed is about 500 extra calories a day. That's the equivalent of running a couple of miles for most women -- or doing some sort of exercise."

Britain's Kate Middleton is the latest celebrity to shed pounds rapidly while breastfeeding. A British study published in the International Journal of Obesity shows women in the UK who breastfeed have a lower risk of obesity and diabetes later in life compared to their American counterparts.  

"I think in general women in the United States don't breastfeed for as long a time period as women in the United Kingdom," said Truitt.

Ashley is happy the Duchess of Cambridge has brought renewed focus on breastfeeding, weight loss, and women's health.

"I think if it's encouraging more women to breastfeed -- or at least to try it -- then I think that's a great thing."

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends mothers breastfeed for six months to a year.

For more on the study, click here.

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