As a new or expecting mom, you know all about the benefits to your child (children) of breastfeeding. But did you know that breastfeeding also helps decrease the chance of abuse or neglect to children too?
In a recent study in the journal Pediatrics, a study of seven thousand mothers found followed over fifteen years showed that not only were breastfeeding mothers less likely to harm their child and also the lower the risk to the child, the longer that Mom breastfed. It makes sense. Breastfeeding strengthens the bond between mom and child (all that time together, staring into each other's eyes!) but Dr. Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, a breastfeeding researcher (not affiliated with the study) also noted that "breastfeeding also regulates hostility", on a summary of the study at Kindred Community found here.
What exactly does "regulating hostility" mean? Here's what I think:
Breastfeeding floods your body with endorphins which help you feel good and makes the act of breastfeeding satisfying and (usually!) peaceful. I know that when I've been stressed out, especially when my daughter was a newborn, breastfeeding was an immediate relaxant. I felt calmer and as a result, she was calmer. That's true even now, at fifteen months.
While domestic violence (including the abuse of children) isn't caused by anything other than one person exercising power and control over another, common emotions of new moms (stress, anxiety, fatigue, etc.) can exacerbate bad situations and trigger abuse. It makes sense that if moms are feeling calmer and good about what they are doing, instead of frustrated or stressed out, they will be less inclined to abuse their child.
However you feed your baby, make sure that it works best for you too. Breastfeeding isn't aways the best choice for moms though so it's okay if you're choosing not to breastfeed. Remember to ask for and get the best support possible no matter how you're feeding your baby. Just like anything else, success often depends on support!