When we talk about breastfeeding, we often focus on the benefits for baby—of which there are many. But as any mama who’s spent hours upon hours in the middle of the night nursing knows, it’s a commitment that takes two.
So it may help to know there’s an interesting benefit in it for mothers as well: According to a study published this week, breastfeeding for at least six months slashes a woman’s risk for developing Type 2 diabetes nearly in half.
For the study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers followed 1,238 women with an average starting age of 24 for approximately 30 years each. In the duration, each woman had at least one baby and 182 women developed Type 2 diabetes.
The fascinating part: Even when all other risk factors were controlled, the mothers who breastfed for six or more months for any baby were 48% less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes.
In fact, any amount of breastfeeding less than six months was still tied to a 25% reduced risk. ?
As for why this is, the researchers have an interesting hypothesis: Lactating women have lower levels of circulating glucose and insulin secretion, which the researchers suggest positively influence the ability of the pancreas to control blood sugar.
Amazing as that is, previous studies have shown breastfeeding can also help guard women from breast cancer and ovarian cancer, plus it can deepen the bond with baby and decrease the little one’s risk for SIDS.
This isn’t to say breastfeeding is the right option for every family—but it should demonstrate the importance of fostering a culture that supports breastfeeding.