Your body goes through a lot in the days and weeks following delivery, and there are many changes to the chemistry inside of you. Breastfeeding also causes changes to the way your body functions and the hormones or natural chemicals that appear inside you. Most new and expectant mothers are familiar with the benefits of breastfeeding for their child, but fewer are aware of the benefits to mom. Join us to learn a bit more about your body as we explore some breastfeeding facts that may surprise you.
Did you know that breastfeeding your child can help reduce your risk of cancer including breast, uterine, and cervical cancers? The World Cancer Research Fund provides fascinating and surprising breastfeeding facts including this one, “At the end of breastfeeding, your body gets rid of any cells in your breasts that may have DNA damage.” Removal of these cells dramatically reduces the risk of breast cancer. Additionally, the act of breastfeeding has a pronounced effect on the levels of certain hormones that are directly related to cancer formation within the mother’s body. So it’s not a stretch to say that breastfeeding could save your life.
There are plenty of ways that having a child impacts your food intake and calorie needs within your body. However, it is not common knowledge that when you are breastfeeding you are allowed to eat more calories than when you are pregnant. This is one of our breastfeeding facts that new moms tend to find astounding. When you are pregnant, you are allotted an additional 300 calories per day above your average recommended caloric intake. When you are breastfeeding, on the other hand, you can add 500 calories to your normal recommended caloric intake. This is because breastmilk production and breastfeeding require a significant amount of energy. So use that extra calorie burn to help lose some of your pregnancy weight or enjoy a few more of your favorite foods. But remember, not consuming enough calories can lead to fatigue and consuming too many can lead to obesity and the adverse health effects associated with it.
Role of hormones
The postpartum recovery process causes some major shifts in the concentration of various hormones within your body. Two hormones that show a sharp increase as you begin breastfeeding are prolactin and oxytocin. Prolactin is a hormone that promotes the production of milk within the body and as its levels increase so does your milk supply. While it makes sense that the body would produce hormones to stimulate milk production, the reason the growth in these hormones is considered one of our surprising breastfeeding facts is due to the role of oxytocin. Oxytocin is often called the love hormone because it promotes feelings of bonding, trust, and love. The act of breastfeeding works to help you establish a strong sense of connection and love for your baby with no extra effort required.