Prolonged exclusive breastfeeding promotes weight loss in mothers
Women practicing exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months achieve greater postpartum weight loss (PPWL) compared with those exclusively breastfeeding for a shorter duration, according to data from the MILK* study.
The present analysis included 315 nondiabetic, nonsmoking mother-infant dyads enrolled in MILK, all of whom were exclusively breastfeeding at 1 month postpartum. Mothers self-reported breastfeeding exclusivity at 3 and 6 months postpartum.
Researchers extracted maternal prepregnancy weight and weight at delivery from medical records. They calculated PPWL by subtracting maternal weight measured at 1, 3 and 6 months from maternal weight at delivery.
Of the women, 93 percent continued exclusive breastfeeding to 3 months and 75 percent to 6 months. Mean weight decreased by 8.55 kg among women who exclusively breastfed for 1 month, by 10.60 kg among those who did for 3 months and by 11.73 kg among those who did for 6 months.
Mixed effects linear regression models showed that exclusive breastfeeding duration of 6 months was associated with greater PPWL at 6 months compared with durations of 1 and 3 months (p<0.05).
Postpartum weight retention increases the risk of future obesity and cardiovascular disease, and the present data suggest that interventions promoting prolonged exclusive breastfeeding may be effective for increasing maternal weight loss by 6 months postpartum, researchers said.
However, further research is warranted to explore whether the weight loss benefits persist after weaning.
*Mothers and Infants LinKed for Health