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Breastfeeding = Sagging?

February 23, 2011

I was sitting in the Labor & Delivery waiting room the other day when I overheard a soon-to-be grandma talking with who I assumed to be one of her other daughters as they waited for their new addition.  The conversation turned to things the new mom was still needing to get and on the list was bottles.  The grandmother then went on to say, “She was thinking about breastfeeding but I told her how it will make her boobs sag so she changed her mind real quick.”

I couldn’t help it, my head perked up so fast that I am sure everyone there heard the whip/crack of my neck.  The pair became aware of my sudden interest in their conversation and an awkward acknowledgment of one another followed.  “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to eavesdrop or anything.  I just couldn’t help overhearing your conversation and I had just read a study that suggests that the idea breastfeeding causes sagging is actually not true.  Pregnancy itself can do that but women who breastfeed didn’t have any added risks than those who don’t.  I am sure the lactation consultants here could answer any questions your daughter would have on that.  Anyway, congrats on your new grand-baby!” I answered.  The grandmother went on to back up her claim with stories of how all the women she knew that breastfed complained on how their breasts where “never the same”.  I just smiled, congratulated them again on the soon arrival of their new baby and gathered my things for a timely coffee break.  I didn’t think I would change her mind but the awkwardness kind of forced me to say something.

More than anything, that conversation just made me sad.  Sad for the new mom who didn’t have the support she needed.  Who knows if the real reason she chose not to breastfeed was because of her mom’s comments but the last thing a pregnant woman needs to hear from her mother is how her breasts will sag if she nurses her baby.  It also made me sad that our culture puts so much value on having “perky” breasts.  Studies have shown that breastfeeding doesn’t cause breasts to sag but that is beside the point.  Since when does the appearance of our breasts trump all of the health benefits you get from breastfeeding?  Breastfeeding helps the uterus contract, controls postpartum bleeding, and helps mom return to her pre-pregnancy state sooner.  Later in life, women who nursed their babies have a decreased risk for ovarian, endometrial, breast, and cervical cancers; lower risk for anemia; reduced risk for heart problems (heart attacks are the leading cause of death for women) and protection against osteoporosis.  These are just some of the short and long-term physical benefits for mom.  For a great article on the physiological and psychological benefits to mom check out this great article from Le Leche League International.

There are many reasons why women choose not to breastfeed but hearing a reason as trivial as less “youthful” looking breasts when I know all of the life-lasting benefits to mom and baby really breaks my heart.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Corri A. permalink
    February 23, 2011 9:32 am

    That breaks my heart! I have breastfed all 4 of my children and I never once worried about “saggy” boobs! Not only are there great benefits for me but think about the benefits for the baby! Not to mention the incredible feeling you get knowing that only you are able to feed your child. The bond is incredible – why would you not want that?!?

  2. Marie permalink
    February 23, 2011 10:56 am

    This is so sad and true. Breastfeeding is not an easy thing to do – I never slept more than 2 hours for 2 and a half months, but when I think about all the help I gave my little guy and how strong he is now – I wouldn’t change it for the world. The only reason I stopped was because I just wasn’t producing enough and it was becoming frustrating for both me and baby.

    I’ve found that many parents in my mother’s generation are very superficial. So it doesn’t shock me that they would care more about their breasts than their child’s well-being. I think a lot of it is ignorance too. Thanks for the read!

  3. February 23, 2011 12:50 pm

    Oh, how sad! From her own mother, too! You did a great job of keeping your composure, Jessica. I have such trouble overhearing things like that.

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