A study, published in the journal Psychological Science, on maternal defense and breastfeeding says yes.
Not only that, but breastfeeding helps protect newborns — in ways beyond the immune system — and “buffers” maternal stress.
The study, which focused on the phenomenon of lactation aggression, looked at 18 breastfeeding moms, 17 formula-feeding moms, and 20 non-mothers in stressful situations and recorded their reactions.
Researchers found signs of aggression in breastfeeding mothers at a rate almost double that of formula-feeding moms.
Researchers also found that breastfeeding mothers had lower blood pressure during these stressful situations, signalling lowered anxiety. Less anxiety in stressful situations can translate to bravery and aggression, when needed.
This phenomenon has been recorded in animals before, but never in human mothers — until now.
In animal studies, maternal aggression is promoted by the release of oxytocin (a relaxing “love hormone”), which generates uncharacteristic levels of courage and protectiveness.
While this doesn’t mean that breastfeeding mothers are going out and engaging in brawls, the release of oxytocin and the animalistic bond formed by breastfeeding can promote a solid defense mechanism in nursing moms, aiding in the protection of vulnerable infants.
Yet another fascinating component of breastfeeding
Image credit: SteFou!