Mamas on Bedrest: Breastfeeding Kept Me From Hemorrhaging Post Partum

August 3rd, 2011

Immediately after I gave birth to my son via C-section, my OB asked that my son be put to my breast to nurse. I was bleeding more than she liked and she was having some trouble stitching me up. My son, a full term, healthy baby boy latched right on and proceeded to suck my entire breast into his tiny little mouth. Meanwhile my lower abdominal organs, which seemed to be keenly attached to my breasts at that very moment, began to contract. I had never experienced such pain at both ends of my body simultaneously.

I later learned that one of the many benefits of breastfeeding for a mama is that it helps to control uterine bleeding post partum and helps the uterus contract and migrate back down into the pelvis. As such, breastfeeding helps ward off anemia in mamas. I sure could have used this benefit after the delivery of my daughter, when I practically hemorrhaged after her delivery. The attending OB had a really hard time stitching me up after the c-section. Everytime she threw a stitch, blood spurted up like Old Faithful. Add to that I was nauseated and vomiting and things were really complicted. She finally had to further sedate me and inject pitocin directly into my uterus to get it to contract and to get the bleeding under control.

So much data has been amassed on the benefits of breastfeeding that the US Surgeon General, Regina Benjamin, MD, issued a statement reported in this blog post that every effort should be made so that all infants are breastfed for their first year.  There are many benefits to a mama who breastfeeds. While not every woman will experience every benefit, most women experience enough benefit to make even a trial of breastfeeding worthwhile.

Faster Return to Pre-pregnancy weight. Many women report that breastfeeding hastened weight loss. I myself found that with my daughter, I lost down to within 6 lbs of my pre-pregnancy weight and then did not lose the final 6 lbs until my daughter stopped nursing at just shy of 11 months. With my son, I actually gained weight. I can only assume that I needed the weight to keep up with his nursing demands (both breasts every 11/2 to 2 hours!). Within 3 months of stopping nursing, I did drop the weight.

Delayed Return on Menses. Again, many women have no menstrual cycles while nursing exclusively. However a word of caution, while exclusive nursing on demand has been associated with decreased fertility, many women do in fact ovulate and end up pregnant while nursing a very young child. If you are unsure, definitely use birth control if you don’t want to become pregnant right away. With both of my children, I breastfeed them both exclusively, yet with both babies my periods resumed by 3 months post partum. The effects of breastfeeding on an individual woman’s menstrual cycle can’t be predicted, so if in doubt, use a reliable form of birth control. (See our blog post, “Mamas on Bedrest: It’s Time to Consider Your Birth Control Options“)

Improved Mood/Prevention of Post Partum Depression. There is a lot of data now that supports the theory that exclusive breastfeeding helps ward off post partum depression. Researchers report that the release of hormones during breastfeeding as well as the bonding that occurs between mother and baby help alleviate (abort) many of the symptoms of post partum depression.

Reduced risk of breast, ovarian, cervical, and endometrial cancers

Protection against osteoporosis and hip fracture in later life

Reduced risk of mortality for women with rheumatoid arthritis has bee associated with total time of lactation

The benefits of breastfeeding are myriad and breastfeeding benefits both mother and baby. Medical societies including as the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics have issued position papers stating that breastfeeding should be encouraged and supported for at least the first year post partum.

Mamas on Bedrest, please consider breastfeeding your baby. If you need support, we are here, Let us know how we can help.

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