Breastfeeding Is Good for Mom, Too

Benefits can include speedier weight loss and a decreased risk of diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.

Feature Story
Smiling African American mother breastfeeding her newborn baby.

Most moms-to-be know that breastfeeding is good for babies. But did you know that breastfeeding is good for you, too?

Breastfeeding can speed your recovery after childbirth while reducing your risk of certain diseases. In honor of World Breastfeeding Week (Aug. 1 to 7), we’re sharing five facts about the benefits of breastfeeding:

  1. Breastfeeding helps your body recover from pregnancy and childbirth. When your baby nurses, your brain releases oxytocin, which makes the uterus contract. As a result, breastfeeding moms usually experience less postpartum bleeding, and the uterus returns to its normal size more quickly.
  1. Breastfeeding helps you lose pregnancy weight by burning calories and fat cells stored in your body. That helps reduce future risk of chronic conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes that can be triggered by excess weight.
  1. Breastfeeding for six months or longer reduces your risk of type 2 diabetes by half. That’s according to a 2018 Kaiser Permanente study that followed 5,000 adults over 30 years. What’s more, “the incidence of diabetes decreased as breastfeeding duration increased,” said lead author Erica P. Gunderson, PhD.
  1. Breastfeeding may reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke, according to a June 2017 study in the Journal of the American Heart Association. The study found that women who breastfed for 12 months had about a 10 percent lower risk of heart disease or stroke later in life.
  1. Breastfeeding is associated with a decreased risk of breast cancer. A 2002 study found that, for every 12 months of breastfeeding, a woman’s breast cancer risk decreased by 4.3 percent. Women who breastfed for 6 months or more were also 37 percent less likely to have a recurrence of the disease, according to a 2015 Kaiser Permanente study.


Learn more about breastfeeding.

Supporting Your Journey

Kaiser Permanente recommends that babies get nothing but breast milk for the first six months of life and continue to breastfeed for at least a year. But the decision to breastfeed is highly personal and may not be possible for all women for a range of personal and medical reasons.

Many new moms struggle with breastfeeding at first, so we offer help every step of the way. That includes breastfeeding classes during pregnancy, plenty of bonding time with your baby in the hospital, personalized support from our nurses and lactation experts, and ongoing support once you’re home.

This comprehensive approach has helped make Kaiser Permanente a leader in supporting breastfeeding. One measure of this is our high rate of “exclusive breastfeeding” (meaning that infants receive only breast milk ― no other liquids or solids) during the hospital stay.

The national average for exclusive breastfeeding is 52 percent according to The Joint Commission. But at Kaiser Permanente hospitals, 75 percent of babies born in 2017 were exclusively breastfed, putting us in the top 10 percent nationwide.