August 1 through August 7 has been named World Breastfeeding Week by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action. But, chances are, you don’t need the WABA to make you aware of the benefits of breastfeeding—for infants, at least. “The focus really up until now has always been on the benefits to the baby,” says Debra Etelson, MD, a pediatrician at Pediatric Associates of Southern Westchester in New Rochelle and blogger at MD Mommy.
Turns out, junior isn’t the only one who reaps the rewards of breastfeeding. “There’s a growing body of evidence that shows the benefit to the mom as well,” including lower risks of stroke, heart disease, and diabetes, Dr. Etelson reports.
She points to a study out of the University of Pittsburgh that shows some significant findings. “If 90 percent of mothers were able to breastfeed as recommended (for 12 months after each birth),” it says, “U.S. women might be spared over 53,000 cases of hypertension, roughly 14,000 heart attacks, and nearly 5,000 cases of breast cancer.”
“They say that it’s related to the amount of what we call belly fat,” Dr. Etelson says, which can contribute to metabolic syndrome. “Breastfeeding slims the waistline, which is right in that area.” As if you need another reason to ditch your formula.