Breastfeeding–what’s in it for mom? Q&A with E. Bimla Schwarz

E. Bimla Schwarz, a women’s health expert and scholar of evidence-based data, sheds new light on breastfeeding’s preventative effects on heart disease and other maladies. While the positive effects of breastfeeding are often noted for infant health, physicians have virtually ignored benefits for the mother. We discussed with Bimla the meaning and impact of her powerful talk.

Breastfeeding advocate and women's health expert E. Bimla Schwarz on the TEDMED 2014 stage.
“On average the waists of moms who don’t breastfeed are six and a half centimeters larger than those who do.” E. Bimla Schwarz at TEDMED 2014. [Photo: Sandy Huffaker for TEDMED]

What motivated you to speak at TEDMED?
I was intrigued by the diversity of TEDMED’s audience. Addressing heart disease in our community and making it easier for moms to breastfeed for as long they want to is going to require lots of new partnerships and creative collaborations.

Why does this talk matter now?
As we become more aware of the lifelong effects of infant feeding practices on maternal and infant health, it becomes imperative to do whatever we can do to make it easier for the moms in our community to recover from pregnancy as nature intended.

What impact do you hope the talk will have?
I hope this talk will inspire more obstetricians and maternity facilities to ensure that the women they care for get the support they need to learn how to breastfeed, and that new moms who are facing the multiple challenges that mothers still commonly face, find the resolve to give breastfeeding a try…and stick with it for a few months.

Is there anything else you really wish you could have included in your talk?
I wish I had woven in the fact that breastfeeding protects moms from breast and ovarian cancer. (See Bimla’s TEDMED page for more resources).

Check out our archived live Facebook Q&A where we’ll dive deeper into these issues with Bimla.