Mothers also benefit from breast-feeding

By Claire Lee
  • Published : Aug 6, 2014 - 21:13
  • Updated : Aug 6, 2014 - 21:13
While it is well known that breast milk protects babies from illness, the benefits of breast-feeding for mothers should be better promoted, according to a Seoul-based hospital specializing in women’s diseases.

Breast-feeding reduces the risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer, according to researchers at Ewha Womans University Mokdong Hospital in Seoul. Particularly, those who breast-feed are 5 percent less likely to develop breast cancer than women who do not, the hospital said.

On top of reducing risks for cancer, breast-feeding also helps a mother lose weight after giving birth, according to the hospital. During lactation, women burn calories as their bodies produce milk, and this helps mothers to get back into shape.

Breast-feeding also releases a hormone named oxytocin, which causes the smooth muscle cells in the uterus to contract, enabling it to return to its normal size more quickly.

For those women who don’t want to have another child right away, breast-feeding can be used as effective birth control, according to the hospital. While a mother is continuously breast-feeding ― meaning her baby does not drink anything besides breast milk ― the body stops releasing the hormone that triggers ovulation.

Breast-feeding functions as birth control for up to six months from giving birth, and is effective when the child is fed at regular intervals, at least every four hours during the day and every five to six hours at night. 
Professor and obstetrician Kim Young-joo (Ewha Womans University Mokdong Hospital)

“There are a lot of young mothers today who don’t fully realize the importance of breast-feeding and choose to bottle-feed instead,” said professor and obstetrician Kim Young-joo from Ewha Womans University Mokdong Hospital. “But breast-feeding benefits mothers as much as it does the children. It is necessary for the public to learn about this.”

Ewha Womans University Mokdong Hospital specializes in women’s diseases including cervical and breast cancers, and has been raising awareness of women’s health by engaging in a variety of activities as well as academic research.

By Claire Lee (