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Did you know breastfeeding may reduce heart disease risk?

Did you know breastfeeding may reduce heart disease risk?

As a new mom, you want the best for baby. You do your research, weigh each option and do what seems best. And you should. But if you’re still on the fence between breast and bottle, new research may make you think breast is best. According to research from the American Heart Association, breastfeeding may reduce your heart disease risk.

The best part is that this added protection is long-lasting. Women who breastfed had a lower likelihood of heart attacks and strokes throughout life compared to women who did not breastfeed. This is good news. Because while you may think men experience more cardiovascular disease than women, it’s also the No. 1 killer of American women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

How much breastfeeding offers health benefits?

Before committing to breast-centric heart protection, you probably want to know how much breastfeeding has a positive effect. Fortunately, the research indicates it doesn’t take much.

In fact, it seems any amount of breastfeeding can help reduce your heart disease risk. However, women who breastfed for at least 12 months enjoyed the greatest effects on their hearts.

Do not let the 12-month timeline get you down, though. Give your baby the breast as often as possible. As you do, take comfort in knowing every moment bonds you closer and strengthens your heart.

The secret power of breastmilk

It is amazing that breasts can nourish a child. It’s incredible that breastfeeding cuts a mother’s risk for heart disease. Exciting as it is, researchers are not sure why breastfeeding can reduce heart disease risk. In the meantime, they’re busy trying to figure it out.

To date, a few theories are on the table. These include:

  • Breastfeeding can help you lose weight faster after giving birth. Since being overweight increases your risk of heart disease, a quick return to prepregnancy weight reduces your risk factors by one.
  • Lactation involves many hormones. Of these hormones, at least one may impact your heart health. Oxytocin lowers your blood pressure, reduces fat mass and offers other perks.

Whatever the cause, it’s clear that breastfeeding has benefits that may lower your need for heart and vascular care.

Measuring the benefit

A decade after breastfeeding, mothers continued to enjoy impressive long-term benefits. Some of the best perks included the following:

  • 17% lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease
  • 14% reduced risk of coronary heart disease
  • 12% reduced risk of stroke

In this research, women’s ages and stages didn’t seem to matter. And the positive effect doesn’t increase with more children. So, you can have one child at an early age or multiple children later in life. As long as you birth and breastfeed at least one baby, your heart will share the benefits.

Breastfeeding helps more than your heart

The benefits of breastfeeding aren’t confined to reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. It offers a variety of other perks. Benefits beyond the heart include lowered risk of:

Of course, you’re not the only one gaining from breastfeeding. It offers health benefits for your baby as well. By breastfeeding, you lower your little one’s likelihood of many health conditions, including:

  • Asthma
  • Diarrhea or vomiting
  • Ear infections
  • Eczema
  • Obesity
  • Respiratory infections
  • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
  • Type 2 diabetes
Whether you breastfeed or not, you need a strong defense against heart disease and stroke. Schedule an appointment with an East Jefferson General Hospital primary care provider or cardiologist for help keeping your heart safe for years to come.