First-time mom Margo Stewart knew all about the health benefits son Haven stood to gain from breastfeeding. Then, she started learning of an added bonus.
"My friends who had babies said, 'Oh you lose weight!'" Margo said.
Experts say they're right - what's good for baby is good for mom, too.
Stormont-Vail nurse Libby Rosen said it's not just the extra calories breastfeeding requires. She said it actually helps a woman's uterus recover more quickly, and more.
"The immune system is keyed up so moms aren't sick as much when they're breastfeeding," she said. Plus, when women breastfeed long-term, there's evidence they have reduced incidences of breast, uterine and ovarian cancers.
As an added bonus, Rosen said, moms don't have to worry about preparing a bottle and they don't have the expense of formula. In addition, hormonal responses triggered by breastfeeding help psychologically.
"Prolactin is known as the mothering hormone," she said. "It's what actually helps the milk come down by relaxing the body. That's also what allows mom to go 'Ahh!' and relax."
To get the maximum benefits for herself and baby, moms have to stick with it. Places like breastfeeding clinics and the La Leche League, a support group of moms, can offer the needed support.
"Mother to mother, you can relate to the common concerns, the common ailments, and overcome them and just give them the confidence to succeed," said La Leche League leader Melissa Peat.
La Leche is also providing books to area breast feeding clinics, which moms can borrow as an added resource.
Margo for one is glad she stuck with it.
"It connects you in a way you can't explain. It's pretty awesome," she said.
Topekans can support La Leche at it's sixth annual Family Fun Celebration. It takes place from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday, July 24 at Gage Park.
Moms wanting to know more about La Leche can call Melissa Peat at 478-0103 or go online to www.lalecheleague.org.