They say "breast milk is best for babies," but did you know that it’s best for moms as well?

A study led by Dr. Kirsty Bobrow from the University of Oxford and reported by NBCNews.com reveals that breastfeeding can help women lose weight even years after kids have outgrown it. Bobrow monitored around 741,000 women from 1996 to 2001, collecting data on their weight, the number of children they had, and the duration of breastfeeding.

The results show that although women who have given birth may have higher Body Mass Indexes (BMI) in their 50s and 60s than those who didn’t, they continuously enjoy a BMI drop of at least 1% for every six months that they’ve nursed their children during their youth.

Professor Cheryl Lovelady of the University of North Carolina at Greensbro explains that the body needs a lot of energy to produce milk, and for every day that a woman breastfeeds, 500 calories are burned, making it possible to lose at least one pound a week. The BMI drop apparently lasts for years, although in smaller increments.

Breastfeeding may have a lot of weight-loss benefits, but that doesn’t mean that you’ll just let nature take its course. If you’re a nursing mother, it’s also important to help your body lose “baby weight” by exercising post-partum. Need more weight-loss advice? Head over to GirlTalk and share your thoughts with our community.

(Photo by Jerry Burke via Flickr Creative Commons)

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