From: Tinamarie Bernard, Green Prophet
Published September 7, 2011 08:45 AM

Breast Feeding Moms More Aggressive than Those Who Use Bottles

Women who breast-feed are far more likely to demonstrate a "mama bear" effect — aggressively protecting their infants and themselves — than women who bottle-feed their babies or non-mothers, suggests a new study in the September issue of Psychological Science. The small-scale study conducted in the US investigated something known as 'lactation aggression' or 'maternal defense' in mammals. Previously, we've documented benefits of breastfeeding, religious attitudes towards the practice, as well as tips to breastfeed in public in the Middle East.

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"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, a postdoctoral fellow in the UCLA Department of Psychology and the study's lead author. "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."

The aggression demonstrated by breast-feeding mothers has its limits, Hahn-Holbrook added.

"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.

Hahn-Holbrook was aware that non-human female mammals, including macaques, rats, mice, hamsters, lions, deer, sheep and others, display more aggression when they are lactating than at any other reproductive stage, but she couldn't find any research that tested that reaction in people. So she decided to set up the first experiment to study lactation aggression in humans.

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