Breastfeeding is God's gift to baby and mother!

Breastfeeding provides many benefits for both mother and baby. Every mother has a right to understand the importance of breastfeeding and an NFP teacher is ideally placed to introduce expectant mothers to general information about the benefits of breastfeeding.

Science confirms that there are a variety of health benefits from breastfeeding for both mother and baby. In addition, breastfeeding plays a role in natural child spacing due to its effects on the mother's menstrual cycle. Under certain conditions, breastfeeding can cause the absence of menstruation (or amenorrhea) and therefore the absence of ovulation

With the practice of Natural Family Planning, post-partum and breastfeeding mothers may have to receive additional information from their NFP providers in order to learn how to watch for their return of fertility. Although challenging, this time of life is important and a beautiful testimony to God's marvelous plan for mother and baby!
 


The Benefits of Breastfeeding

Health and Well-Being of the Child

  • Prevention of about 720 post-neonatal deaths per year [infant > 28 days old]
    See, Chen A., Rogan, W. J. (2004) "Breastfeeding and the risk of post-neonatal death in the United States." Pediatrics 113 (5): e435-e439.
     
  • High IQ and motor development
    See, Horta, B. L., Victora, C. G. (2013) "Long-term effects of breastfeeding-a systematic review." World Health Organization. ISBN 978 92 4 150530 7; see also, Kramer, M. S., Aboud, F., Mironova, E., Vanilovich, I., Platt, R. W., Matush, L., Shapiro, S. (2008) "Breastfeeding and child cognitive development: new evidence from a large randomized trial." Archives of General Psychiatry 65 (5): 578-584.
     
  • When pre-term and term infants are exclusively breastfed for at least six months after they are born-they receive a wide variety of benefits including:
    • The best nutrition since breast-milk is easier to digest and breast-milk changes with the needs of the baby adjusting to fats, proteins, vitamins.
    • Strong antibodies since breast-milk eliminates the chance of infection from water born vectors or other similar infections.
    • Protection from:
      • Middle ear infections (risk reduction is 23%-50%)
      • Skin disorders (risk reduction is 42%)
      • Gut infections (risk reduction up to 64%)
      • Necrotizing Enterocolitis or "NEC" (risk reduction 4-82%). Note: even a 4% risk reduction is significant considering that pre-term infants have a high mortality risk.
      • Lower respiratory tract infections (72% reduction in the risk for hospitalization)
      • Asthma (27% to 40% risk reduction in those infants with a family history)
      • Cognitive development (Note: studies did not consider maternal IQ or home environments thus confounding results)
      • Obesity in childhood to adulthood (4%-24% risk of being overweight or obese)
      • Heart disease
      • Childhood Type 1 Diabetes (possibly a 19%-27% risk reduction)
      • Type 2 Diabetes (possibly 39% risk reduction
      • Childhood leukemias (15%-19% risk reduction)
      • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or "SIDS" (36% risk reduction)

Note: The above is summarized from a report done by the Evidence-Based Practice Centers (EPC). It is a systematic review of articles for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Problem: Variable definition for breastfeeding and exclusive breastfeeding across studies.

Benefits for the Breastfeeding Mother Who Breastfeeds for at Least Six Months

  • Lower rates of
    • breast cancer (4.3-28% reduction for every year of breastfeeding)
    • ovarian cancer (21% risk reduction for every year of breastfeeding)
    • Type 2 Diabetes (risk reduction of 4-12%)
    • osteoporosis
    • post-partum depression
    • high blood pressure
    • heart disease
  • Return to pre-pregnancy weight sooner than if not breastfeeding

Note: The above is summarized from a report done by the Evidence-Based Practice Centers (EPC). It is a systematic review of articles for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Problem: Variable definition for breastfeeding and exclusive breastfeeding across studies.

Sources

  • Chen A., Rogan, W. J. (2004) "Breastfeeding and the risk of post-neonatal death in the United States." Pediatrics 113 (5): e435-e439.
     
  • Horta, B. L., Victora, C. G. (2013) "Long-term effects of breastfeeding-a systematic review." World Health Organization. ISBN 978 92 4 150530 7.
     
  • Ip, S., Chung M., Raman G., Chew P., Magula N., DeVine D., Trikalinos T., Lau J. (2007) "Breastfeeding and Maternal and Infant Health Outcomes in Developed Countries." Evidence Report/Technology Assessment No. 153 (Prepared by Tufts-New England Medical Center Evidence-based Practice Center, under Contract No. 290-02-0022). AHRQ Publication No. 07-E007. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. 
     
  • Kramer, M. S., Aboud, F., Mironova, E., Vanilovich, I., Platt, R. W., Matush, L., Shapiro, S. (2008) "Breastfeeding and child cognitive development: new evidence from a large randomized trial." Archives of General Psychiatry 65 (5): 578-584.
     
  • Meyers, D. (2009) "Breastfeeding and health outcomes." Breastfeeding Medicine 4 (S1): S-13.

Note: Gratitude is expressed to Mary Schneider, APRN, BC, FNP, NFPE, (Institute for NFP, College of Nursing, Marquette University) for summarizing the above information.

For a review of breastfeeding research prior to 1972 see Sheila Kippley's article at http://www.nfpandmore.org/reviewbreastfeeding.shtml.


Select Articles on Breastfeeding

(See also the NFP Science Bibliography-Breastfeeding and NFP)

  • Breast-feeding and the Ovulation Method: A Needed Means of Ecologically Sound Child Spacing M. Francesca Kearns. World Health Organization associate and Billings Ovulation Method teacher, Sister M. Francesca Kearns, details the health and wellness benefits found in the Ovulation Method, especially coupled with breastfeeding.
     
  • The Return of Fertility in Breast-feeding Women Suzanne Parenteau-Carreau. Dr. Suzanne Parenteau-Carreau analyzes the correlation of the return to fertility with breastfeeding variables for women using the Sympto-Thermal Method. 
     
  • The Science and Art of Breastfeeding William F. Walsh, M.D., N.F. P.M.C. William Walsh, program director of the UCLA-Antelope Valley Family Practice Residency, provides a close look into human breast development and the establishment and maintenance of lactation. He highlights the necessity of postpartum care for the mother on both the personal and societal level. 

 

 

Return to NFP Science