There are numerous benefits of breastfeeding for mother and baby alike, such as shedding pregnancy weight and potentially reducing a baby’s risk of contracting certain illnesses. A new study also suggests women who breastfeed for at least five months are likely to have more kids.
Cornell University sociology professor Vida Maralani and Hunter College professor Samuel Stabler determined women who breastfeed their first child for five or more months “have more children overall and higher odds of having three or more children rather than two, compared with women who breastfeed for shorter durations or not at all,” according to their newly released study called the “Intensive Parenting: Fertility and Breastfeeding Duration in the United States,” which was published in the journal Demography.
Using “longitudinal data” of roughly 3,700 women from the late 1970s to 2012, Maralani and Stabler determined women who breastfed longer “did not differ significantly from other breastfeeding women in their early fertility expectations.”
The researchers noted the women who breastfed their first child for at least five months achieved “and even exceed their earlier fertility expectations” over the course of their lifetime, according to the study.
While the researchers found women who breastfeed for longer have more children, “this doesn’t mean that breastfeeding causes women to have more children,” Maralani clarified to Fox News.
“Instead, we think that the same factors that helped them to succeed in breastfeeding in the first place are also likely to help them to have larger families.”
For instance, “spousal support or flexible work options might be factors that both help new mothers breastfeed for longer and help them to have larger families in the long run,” she added.