The reset hypothesis: lactation and maternal metabolism

Am J Perinatol. 2009 Jan;26(1):81-8. doi: 10.1055/s-0028-1103034. Epub 2008 Nov 21.


For maternal metabolism, pregnancy ends not with delivery, but with weaning. In several recent epidemiological studies, authors have reported an association between duration of breast-feeding and reduced maternal risk of metabolic disease. These findings parallel data from animal models showing favorable changes in metabolism associated with lactation. During gestation, visceral fat accumulates, and insulin resistance and lipid and triglyceride levels increase. These changes appear to reverse more quickly, and more completely, with lactation. In this article, we review animal and human studies regarding the effects of lactation on adiposity, lipid, and glucose homeostasis. We hypothesize that lactation plays an important role in "resetting" maternal metabolism after pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity / physiology
  • Animals
  • Breast Feeding*
  • Female
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Homeostasis / physiology
  • Humans
  • Lactation / metabolism*
  • Lipid Metabolism / physiology*
  • Pregnancy / metabolism
  • Weaning*


  • Glucose