Breast-feeding moms seem to protect their infants and themselves far more aggressively than women who bottle feed babies.
Breast feeding gives women the extra courage they need to defend themselves by helping suppress the body’s typical fear responses, says a new study.
Surprisingly, they also register a lower blood pressure than other women, the journal Psychological Science reports.
“Breast feeding has many benefits for a baby’s health and immunity but it seems to also have a little-known benefit for the mother,” said Jennifer Hahn-Holbrook, psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles who led the study.
“It may be providing mothers with a buffer against the many stressors new moms face while at the same time giving mothers an extra burst of courage if they need to defend themselves or their child.”
But the aggression demonstrated by breast-feeding mothers has its limits, Hahn-Holbrook added, according to a university statement.
“Breast-feeding mothers aren’t going to go out and get into bar fights but if someone is threatening them or their infant, our research suggests they may be more likely to defend themselves in an aggressive manner,” she said.
Their reaction is known as “lactation aggression” or “maternal defence” in mammals.