By: Allison Stevens for Fibroids1
“Ever since nursing, my breasts sag.” A declaration heard often in a plastic surgeon’s office, and a statement scary enough to cause some expectant moms to think twice before breastfeeding. But promising new research presented at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) Plastic Surgery 2007 conference in Baltimore dispels the myth that nursing causes droopy breasts.
|The “Benefits of Breastfeeding” Web site, run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, points out the following health risks of not breastfeeding:|
Breast milk has agents in it to help protect infants from bacteria and viruses. Recent studies show that babies who are not exclusively breastfed for six months are more likely to develop a wide range of infectious diseases including ear infections, diarrhea, respiratory illnesses and have more hospitalizations.
Some studies suggest that infants who are not breastfed have higher rates of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in the first year of life, and higher rates of type 1 and type 2 diabetes, lymphoma, leukemia, Hodgkin's disease, overweight and obesity, high cholesterol and asthma.
Babies who are not breastfed are sick more often and have more doctor visits.
Also, when you breastfeed, there are no bottles and nipples to sterilize. Unlike human milk straight from the breast, infant formula has a chance of being contaminated.
Lead researcher, plastic surgeon Dr. Rinker of the University of Kentucky, set out to examine what causes changes in breast shape. His study included 93 female patients seeking cosmetic breast surgery. All participants had been pregnant at least once and slightly over half (55 percent) reported an adverse change in their breast shape following pregnancy.
Fifty-eight percent of all study participants reported breastfeeding at least one of their children. Breastfeeding duration averaged nine months, with a range of two to 25 months. Researchers found that breastfeeding did not cause sagging breasts. Furthermore, the number of children breastfed and the duration of each child’s breastfeeding did not adversely change breast shape.
“Now expectant mothers can relax knowing breastfeeding does not change the appearance of their breasts,” concluded Dr. Rinker.
The study did reveal certain predictors for a change in breast shape after pregnancy. These included body mass index (BMI), number of pregnancies, smoking history, and age.
Breastfeed for Baby & Mom
With no clear connection between breastfeeding and sagging breasts, expectant moms have few remaining reasons not to breastfeed. Nursing benefits both baby and mom. Breastfed babies are generally healthier than their bottle fed counterparts. Antibodies found in breast milk (and not perfectly duplicated in formula) can boost baby’s immunity, protecting from bacteria and viruses. Some studies even suggest breastfed babies score better on IQ tests.
The benefits of breastfeeding do not stop with baby. Nursing burns calories, making it easier for mom to lose that baby weight. Breastfeeding also lowers the risk of breast and ovarian cancers and possibly the risk of hip fractures and osteoporosis after menopause. Health benefits aside, breast milk is cheaper and often more convenient than formula. Additionally, the act of nursing provides valuable bonding time for mother and child.
For more information on breastfeeding visit: www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding, a website sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Or call the toll-free helpline: 1-800-994-9662.