In a recent study that assessed the cardiovascular health of over 800 United States women, it was found that breastfeeding actually slowed vascular aging and reduced cardiac risk in later life. Currently, additional research is being done to verify the correlation between breastfeeding and reduced arterial thickening, but it is clear that there are benefits for both baby and mother.
As the body ages, the artery walls thicken with plaques that can lead to heart attack or stroke. It was found that women who breastfed their children for at least 10 months exhibited signs of artery thickening that were three to five years less than those who hadn't. Essentially, this means that the cardiovascular systems of those who breastfed were actually years younger than that of women who hadn't. Even after accounting for lifestyle, education, physical activity, and other variations, these differences were observed.
It has been suggested that breastfeeding is the best nutrition for babies, and that it may act as a "reset" for the woman after pregnancy. Carrying and giving birth to a child is incredibly stressful on the body, and breastfeeding may act as a method to bring equilibrium back to the body. However, it was noted that for some women breastfeeding is difficult due to physical or life challenges and that it is ok not to breastfeed. However, mothers are encouraged to breastfeed
if they are able.