A new study indicates that it is the number of times that a woman is pregnant which causes sagging breasts, it is not whether breastfeeding occurs or not. The study, conducted by researchers from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) has not yet been presented to any peer reviewed journal and as such findings and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary and treated with caution. It is due to be presented shortly to the annual conference of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
One finding indicates that women who have implants take the view that breastfeeding will alter how their breasts look. This makes these women less likely to want to breastfeed.
Doctor Norma Cruz is the study author and she says, "If a woman believes that breastfeeding will adversely affect her breast appearance, she decreases her chances of successful breastfeeding. This misconception is unfortunate. Reassuring women that breastfeeding won't harm their breast appearance, and that it has significant health advantages for both mother and baby, is vitally important".
The study looked at 160 mothers, all of whom had breast implants, and checked on their breastfeeding habits. They found a very strong correlation between those women who thought that breastfeeding would adversely affect the appearance of their breasts and those unsuccessful at breastfeeding. It was found that of the 97 mothers who did not breastfeed, 86% believed that breastfeeding would make their breasts less attractive. This view, the researchers believe, lowers significantly the women’s chances of being successful breast feeders.
Of those women who successfully breastfed, the vast majority took the view that breast feeding would not affect the appearance of their breasts detrimentally, only 13% of the 63 women thought that it would harm the appearance of the breasts.
Cruz, who is a surgeon and member of the ASPS can understand the feelings of concern from the women who have had breast augmentation. She points out that these women have spent a lot of time and money and suffered pain and discomfort to achieve the look that they have and now they worry that their shape is in some way going to be less attractive after breastfeeding. But Cruz asserts that this study shows that it is the pregnancy that will cause any change of breast shape, not the breastfeeding. She says, “available evidence tells us that although breasts sag more with each pregnancy, breastfeeding doesn't seem to worsen these effects in women with or without breast implants".
Because the research appears to identify that women with breast augmentation have the perception that breast feeding and not pregnancy causes the breast shape to change and the breasts to sag it means that these people can lose out on all the benefits of breastfeeding. It is known that as well as giving a strong mother and child bond, breastfeeding also reduces the risk of the mother developing type 2 diabetes, breast and ovarian cancer and some forms of depression. It also has a positive effect on the child by helping to strengthen the immune system and fight off illness.Cruz notes that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health promotes breast feeding for all of the above reasons but Cruz sees a risk that some people will increase their risks of some medical conditions because of a perception. She concludes, "Now that we know breast augmentation patients' views on how breastfeeding will impact the look of their breasts, patient education becomes critical to improving perceptions and strengthening the health and lives of both mother and child".