Lactation Connected to Heart Health

February 14, 2022

We know breastfeeding is good for mother and baby, but a recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association provides strong evidence that lactation protects the heart health of mothers and birthing parents.

The article shared the analysis of health data for more than 1.1 million women from eight studies conducted between 1986 and 2009 in the U.S., Australia, China, Norway, Japan and one multinational study.

Not only were women who breastfed less likely to suffer cardiovascular disease and stroke but the benefits added up over time. Women who reported lactating at least 12 months over the course of their lives experienced significantly fewer cardiovascular issues than those who spent less time lactating.

This means that the protective benefits afforded the mother aren’t a one-shot deal. Even breastfeeding each child for a few months can add up to major positive outcomes later in life. 

Breastfeeding reduces maternal risk of cardiovascular disease. Full stop.

Whether the news surprises you or not, we all need to be talking about it. Even in 2022, lactation-supportive messages tend to center around benefits to the infants and children being fed.

And though we know human milk is the best-possible source of nutrition for babies, it’s too easy for well-meaning individuals to suggest breastmilk substitutes when feeding challenges arise instead of seeking creative solutions to support breastfeeding.

By centering the benefits of lactation to the mother, we can advocate for making bigger investments in supporting lactation so that every family can achieve their chest/breastfeeding goals.

Paid family leave, pump-and-pickup policies in jails and prisons, workplace lactation accommodation laws, and Baby-Friendly practices are all examples of supportive lactation practices and we need more!

At our annual summit, we heard directly from new mothers and they all voiced how they wished they could have received in-person lactation support when they got home after having their baby. They said dealing with nipple pain and latching their babies alone was difficult and discouraging. Google became their support!. We need to create an environment where every family knows about and has access to varying levels of lactation support at home, at work, and in their daily lives.

We know you work at this each and every day, while we continue to advocate for measures that provide these services to families. We’re grateful to the work you do, and we hope this recent research data helps you further fortify its importance and impact to public health.