How Breastfeeding Helps You Relax
Breastfeeding is a magnificent gift for both moms and babies. In addition to the bonding and emotional satisfaction it brings, it also has mental and physical health benefits for mothers. And as for infants, they cannot get more nutritious food than this anywhere in the world. Breastfeeding helps you relax and can truly offer a rewarding and undeniable bond between you and your baby.
With the continuous demand of your baby being fed after a few hours, you may find it to be a bit tiring. But the relaxation, stress reduction, and fulfillment that it provides overrides the tiredness completely.
Several hormones take part in the process of milk production and its release. Some of these hormones are released during pregnancy and some are released once you have given birth to your little one.
Let’s go through how these hormones help in the milk production process and then see how they make your journey of breastfeeding better by lowering stress levels, anxiety, and other mental issues.
Milk Production and Role of Hormones
Naturally, women have mammary glands to produce breast milk. The growth of these hormones starts during pregnancy. Their growth is stimulated by the hormones released by the placenta and ovaries. Under the influence of these hormones, your body may produce milk before delivery but in a lesser amount. Its abundant amount is only produced once a woman gives birth.
Ovarian and placental hormones also block the release of milk during pregnancy, but after delivery, the amount of these hormones (progesterone mainly) diminishes in the blood and breasts start releasing milk.
Once the milk production starts, it must be maintained to make sure that your baby gets enough milk and its natural nutrients. For this purpose, your body starts secreting certain hormones. Numerous hormones are secreted by the pituitary gland and play a role in supporting continuous milk formation.
Suckling also has a role in producing milk. When a baby suckles, this stimulates the release of pituitary hormones (prolactin and maybe some others) which further activates the release of another pituitary hormone called oxytocin. This hormone plays several roles and one of them is promoting the release of milk upon suckling.
Release of Hormones and Breastfeeding – What’s the Connection?
A lot of mothers enjoy breastfeeding and admire its positive effects on their mental health. As mentioned above, breastfeeding promotes the release of two important hormones from the pituitary gland called prolactin and oxytocin.
Both hormones work together to help moms enjoy their breastfeeding experience. These hormones do not only provide assistance in milk production but they also play an important role in developing a strong bond between a baby and mom.
Let’s look at the role of both hormones to understand their functions better.
Role of Oxytocin in Breastfeeding to Help You Relax
Oxytocin, also called the “Love Hormone,” plays many roles in the body. Its production is stimulated by lactation. Some of its functions are:
- After delivery, it activates the uterus muscles for several days to bring the uterus back to its pre-pregnancy size.
- When you have skin-to-skin contact with your baby, your body releases lots of oxytocin which makes your senses stronger and you recognize and memorize the smell of your baby. The same happens with the baby during this skin-to-skin contact.
- This Love Hormone establishes a strong mother-baby bond and nurtures love and affection.
- While breastfeeding, it is also noticed that this hormone makes mothers sleepy and brings their bodies into a relaxed state.
- It also causes the let-down-reflex in mothers. It is the release of milk due to the contraction of milk ducts. This reflex is stimulated by suckling which activates more release of oxytocin hormone which further assists in milk ejection.
Role of Prolactin in Breastfeeding
Like oxytocin, the prolactin hormone is also released by the pituitary gland. It works alongside oxytocin and plays an important role in producing milk. This hormone starts making milk during pregnancy but other hormones prevent large production of milk during this period. After delivery, the more your baby breastfeeds, the more prolactin is produced. Your body will then make more milk.
Other than that, it also encourages positive feelings like contentment, relaxation, and calmness in mothers.
How Breastfeeding Helps Mothers in Improving Their Health
Breastfeeding provides babies with all the healthy nutrients they need to grow and develop. It not only makes babies healthy but has a positive effect on the physical and mental health of mothers as well.
How Breastfeeding Affects Postpartum Depression
Studies show that mothers who feed their babies their own milk generally do not suffer from postpartum depression. Some even claim that breastfeeding has better effects than the effects of an antidepressant.
If you’re struggling with breastfeeding, finding proper support is really important though, so you don’t go into a depressed state feeling inadequate for your baby’s needs. If you need lactation support, reach out to us here to schedule a private consultation.
As mentioned above, hormones also play their part in making a mother calm and tranquil which helps her fight depression. Children, who breastfeed, are usually healthier and stronger than those who drink formula milk. Seeing that your baby is growing healthy also reduces depression.
How Breastfeeding Affects Stress
When you know that your body is providing all the healthy nutrients to your baby, your mood becomes positive and you feel more confident. You start dealing with the stressed situations the right way. This is how breastfeeding helps you reduce stress and anxiety.
It also encourages sleep in mothers by increasing sleep duration that helps them get refreshed and energetic.
Other Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mother and Baby Both
There are multiple benefits of breastfeeding. It does not only help mothers but has a positive effect on babies as well.
Benefits for Mother
The following are some of the benefits that breastfeeding provides to the mother.
- It helps a mother burn extra calories which may help you lose the weight you gained during pregnancy.
- Women who breastfeed have lower chances of developing ovarian cancer than women who do not breastfeed.
- It is also said that women who breastfeed, generally, have a lower risk of developing health issues like high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, high blood cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes.
- It also saves lots of time and money. You do not have to go to the kitchen to warm a formula milk bottle. It also helps you save money. Instead of buying expensive formula milk, you can feed your baby milk that your body is producing naturally.
- While going outside, you do not have to carry all the feeding equipment from place to place.
- It helps you create a special bond and emotional connection with your baby. You get a chance to spend more time with the baby.
Benefits for Baby
The following are some of the benefits that breastfeeding provides to the baby.
- Breast milk is a composition of the right amount of antibodies, fats, proteins, and all the nutrients that a baby needs to grow strong and healthy.
- Babies who drink breast milk stay protected against allergies, infections, and respiratory problems as compared to those who drink formula milk.
- It reduces a baby’s risk of developing diabetes later in life.
- Babies spend more time with their mothers and develop a special connection. It gives them a sense of calm and security.
Tips for Breastfeeding Moms
If you are a new mother then you might have some questions about breastfeeding. Here are some of the tips that may help you have a better breastfeeding experience so you can experience relaxation from breastfeeding.
- Take an online breastfeeding course or join a group of experienced mothers. They will share their knowledge and tips related to breastfeeding.
- If you want to breastfeed your baby right after the delivery (during the golden hour), then make sure you share your views with your doctor before delivery.
- If you are taking any medications that you think may affect your breast milk supply then share your concern with your doctor to get help before your baby is born.
- Make healthy food a part of your life. What you eat may have an effect on your breast milk.
- The most abundant ingredient in breast milk is water. So, to produce a sufficient amount of milk you must drink plenty of water every day. Keep yourself hydrated.
- If you have any issues regarding breastfeeding, reach out to a lactation consultant who will teach you the basics of breastfeeding and will resolve your related problems. Never hesitate to ask for help. Breastfeeding helps you relax and offers your baby the same, and it is so worth it.