In 2018, 36-year-old Sophie Power took a break at mile 50 in the 105-mile-long Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc ultramarathon to breastfeed her 3-month-old son. They both enjoyed the break.
We know it was good for the health of her son who gains great benefits from being fed only breast milk for the first six months of life, and enjoying solid foods and breast milk until at least a year old.
But a new study in JAMA Obstetrics and Gynecology reveals that breastfeeding gives Mom a boost in her well-being too, years (if not miles) down the road.
Researchers looked at data on more than 200,000 women and found that breastfeeding a baby for more than 12 months is associated with reducing Mom's risk for diabetes later in life by 30%, and for high blood pressure by 13%, compared with breastfeeding for less than 12 months.
The researchers say the benefits may come from a combination of factors. Breastfeeding burns up around 500 calories a day. It also mobilizes fat stores, decreases the risk of obesity, and increases good HDL cholesterol levels.
In addition, the bonding hormone oxytocin plays a big role in breastfeeding, and is known to reduce a woman's stress response and lower blood pressure.
Although it can be tough to juggle work, other kids, and breastfeeding, the rewards are tangible for both baby and Mom.