Greensboro's African American Community Newspaper since 1967

Breast feeding is good for mother and child


It has long been known that babies gain so much when their mother’s breast feed. We know that the milk from the mother is superior to cow or other formula milks. Women’s breast milk is digested better by the babies. It is a perfect mix of vitamins and fat. The wonderful boost to the immune system that is given by a mother to her baby by breast feeding is known to protect the baby from viral and bacterial illnesses. This translates into these babies also having fewer ear infections, lower diarrhea episodes, respiratory infections and trips to the hospital.

Okay, we the benefits breast feeding has for a baby, but does it have any benefits for the mother? Well, yes it does. Breast feeding helps burn additional calories which may help the mother lose a little weight. It also lowers one’s risk of breast and ovarian cancer. Also the hormone oxytocin, which is produced, helps the uterus return quicker to pre pregnancy size and reduce uterine bleeding. There are some new benefits of breast feeding recently found by cardiac researchers.

In a recent study performed at the University of Pittsburgh, researchers studied women to determine whether breast feeding was beneficial or not. The researchers first divided the groups into those patients who had elevated blood pressures during their pregnancy and those patients who did not have elevated blood pressures during their pregnancy. They next looked at patients who did not breast feed, those who breast fed for less than six months and those who breast fed for more than six months during one or more pregnancies.

The researchers found out that women with normal blood pressures who breast feed for six months or more had better cholesterol levels, more of the good cholesterol known as HDL and their carotid arteries were healthier when compared to those women who did not breast feed. This benefit was still present eleven years after the pregnancy. That is impressive and proved that the longer one breast feeds, the longer the benefit.

Women who had elevated blood pressures prior to being pregnant and breast fed their child, did not seem to gain any cardiovascular benefits.

Certainly, additional studies need to be performed to determine how pregnancy affects a woman's heart health. Most women in their child-bearing years have normal blood pressures during pregnancy. It can be comforting to know that by doing six months or more of breast feeding, a woman can experience positive health effects. These benefits, on top of the benefits a baby gets, makes breast feeding a great thing for both mother and child.

Dr. Veita Bland is a board certified Greensboro physician and hypertension specialist. Dr. Bland’s radio show, “It’s a Matter of Your Health,” can be heard live on Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. on N.C. A&T State University’s WNAA, 90.1 FM. Listeners may call in and ask questions. The show is replayed on Sirius 142 at 5 p.m. on Wednesdays. Email Dr. Bland at