7.2.2  Benefits to the mother of breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is (almost) free – the mother needs additional food while she is breastfeeding, but the cost is much cheaper than buying formula feeds, bottles and teats. It is instantly available at all times, so the mother does not have the trouble of sterilising bottles and teats, and preparing formula feeds many times every day. It is emotionally satisfying for the mother to successfully breastfeed her baby and the close contact helps to form a strong bond between mother and newborn.

The hormone (oxytocin) that triggers the milk to spurt from the breast by contracting the tiny muscles around the nipple, also makes the muscles in the uterus contract. So breastfeeding helps the uterus to return to its normal size.

  • What other benefit can you suggest results from the contractions of the myometrieum (the muscle layer in the uterus) during breastfeeding?

  • The contractions help to close the torn blood vessels where the placenta detached from the uterine wall, and this reduces the amount of normal vaginal bleeding during the puerperium, and decreases the risk of postpartum haemorrhage.

Breastfeeding helps the mother to lose excessive weight if she gained too much during the pregnancy. Pregnancy, not breastfeeding, alters the shape of a woman’s breasts.

7.2.1  Benefits to the newborn of breastfeeding

7.2.3  Breastfeeding and birth control