There are many benefits for a baby to be breastfed and according to a new study reveals it is actually a health benefit for the mom too.
Breast milk gives babies a starter population of bacteria and virus-fighting cells from their mothers and breastfed babies tend to develop stronger immune systems.
For moms, breastfeeding can help them lose pregnancy weight and lower risk of certain cancers and heart diseases.
Additionally, feeding a child naturally may also help moms burn off more body fat.
The study involved nearly 290,000 women in China who provided information on how many children they had, whether they breastfed and for how long. The researchers followed the women for nearly 10 years looking for heart events.
Breastfeeding may help mothers lower their risk of heart attack and stroke even a decade after giving birth.
Those who breastfed had a 9 percent lower risk of heart disease and an 8 percent lower risk of stroke, compared to those who did not breastfeed.
Mothers who breastfed for two years or more had an 18 percent lower risk of heart disease and 17 percent lower risk of stroke, than those who never breastfed.
The findings should encourage more widespread breastfeeding for the benefit of the mother as well as the child.
“The longer a woman breastfeeds her child, the greater the protection the woman has against future heart problems,” said Dr. Sanne Peters, a Research Fellow in Epidemiology at The George Institute for Global Health at Oxford University, UK.
The finding only points to a strong association between breastfeeding and lower heart disease risk; it doesn’t imply that women who don’t breastfeed will necessarily develop heart problems.
Future studies are needed to confirm the findings and determine whether they apply to women living in other countries, the researchers said.
The study was published in the journal of the American Heart Association.