New Study: Lower Risk for Obesity by Breastfeeding at Least 6 Months
If you were to judge the effect of childbirth on a woman’s body solely by the celebrities featured in magazines and on television, you would likely believe that six weeks is all it takes to go from a full term pregnancy with a healthy baby to skinny jeans and bikinis. The truth of the matter is that not all women have the youth, the money, and the resources to make that sort of transition happen, whether in six weeks or six months.
It takes a long time to gain the weight necessary to carry a baby, and it usually takes a long time for that weight to come back off, even if you are following a healthy diet and exercise plan. The older or the more out of shape you are to begin with, the more challenging the loss is going to be.
The benefits of breastfeeding are often discussed as it relates to the newborn. What is not as often the focus are the benefits to the mother. There are many benefits, but a newly released study focuses on one in particular. The study finds that “[c]hildbearing is linked with an increased risk of obesity, but breast-feeding cuts that risk by about 1 percent for every six months of nursing.”
So, for each child you carry and deliver your chances of obesity – for the rest of your life – increase. When the researchers considered the 740,000 women who participated in the study, they found that “[a]mong those who had no children, average BMI was 25.6 — slightly overweight. For women with four or more deliveries, average BMI was 27.2.”
So what can you do to return to a healthy weight after pregnancy? Of course, as is the case any time you want to lose weight, following a healthy diet and exercising regularly are the best steps to take. But this study shows that breastfeeding – especially extended breastfeeding – is beneficial in ways that are worth considering.
If you are or were a nursing mother, did you feel like breastfeeding helped you to return to your pre-pregnancy weight?
If you haven’t delivered yet, does this study make you more inclined to try breastfeeding?