There are many reasons why women don’t breastfeed or curtail it early. One reason is the myth that breastfeeding will make breasts sag and ruin their appearance. However, a recent study has showed that nursing does not cause breasts to sag; other factors are to blame.
Brian Rinker, a plastic surgeon at the University of Kentucky, was surprised that many women, who came to him wanting breast augmentation or lifts, believed that breastfeeding had caused their breast to sag. Intrigued, he decided to find out if there was any connection.
Over an eight year period between 1998 and 2006 he and his colleagues interviewed 132 women wanting breast surgery. The average age of the women was 39 and 93% had experienced at least one pregnancy. The study noted that 58% had breastfed at least one of their children and that the average duration of nursing was nine months.
The results of the study were presented at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. It showed no difference in the amount of breast ptosis (sagging) between women who breastfed and those who didn’t.
What the study did find was that other factors like smoking and multiple pregnancies were more likely causes. The effects of smoking was hardly surprising as it has been well documented that smoking breaks down a protein in the skin called Elastin, which gives young skin its elastic appearance. Elastin is what also helps to support the breast.
Also, the number of pregnancies had a direct bearing on breast ptosis. Each pregnancy caused more sagging. However, with very low birth rates in the West, this isn’t a major cause of sagging for Western mothers.
The study was clear in its dispelling of the myth that breastfeeding ruins breasts. Breastfeeding did not cause breasts to sag.
There are many reasons why women don’t breastfeed or stop early. This is a great shame as breastfeeding gives a child the best possible start in life. Without going in to great detail about its benefits, a child that is breastfed is less likely to become sick as its mother’s antibodies are present in breast milk, tooth decay is reduced, ear infections are reduced and it has also been shown that children who are breastfed are less likely to be obese in later life.
But there are also benefits for the mother. Breastfeeding can burn up to 500 calories a day, which helps a mother to regain her pre-pregnancy figure. Women who breastfeed are also less likely to develop conditions like ovarian cancer, breast cancer and osteoporosis. Regular breastfeeding stops the breasts from swelling up and causing stretch marks.
Undeniably, bonding between mother and child is the greatest benefit of breastfeeding. Few things have the intimacy of a mother providing her own breast milk as nourishment for her child.
If you decide against breastfeeding don’t let the myth of it ruining your breasts be the reason. Enjoy nursing your child and rest assured that your baby’s suckling is not going to be responsible for your breasts to begin sagging.