Given the number of celebrities who have recently publicized their decision to breastfeed (Angelina Jolie, Christina Aguilera and Jennifer Garner to name but a few), it was disappointing to read in February’s British Vogue that Cheryl Cole is put off by the effect it might have on her breasts. ‘I want to breastfeed,’ she declared, ‘but I’ve seen what it can do, so I may have to reconsider.’
Cheryl’s concern is a common one. Whilst breastfeeding may be the healthiest option, it isn’t seen as the aesthetically pleasing one: not only does it desexualize your breasts (using them for something other than attracting men – surely not!?), it is also rumoured to leave you with a little less ‘lift’ than you might have had if you’d gone down the formula route.
Is a little sagginess really the price you have to pay for giving your children the healthiest start in life? Not necessarily, according to a recent study by a plastic surgeon at the University of Kentucky1. The surgeon and his colleagues examined data from all the women who had come to the UK HealthCare clinic seeking aesthetic breast surgery over an eight year period. They considered a number of factors, including the number of pregnancies the women had had and whether they had breastfed, and determined the degree of ‘ptosis’ (that’s droop to you and me) from pre-operative photos.
Factors which appeared to increase ptosis included higher body mass index, pre-pregnancy bra size, age, and smoking. The number of pregnancies a woman had gone through was also linked with ptosis, but whether she had breastfed, interestingly, was not.
So it seems that although having children may leave you less perky (probably in more ways than one), you can breastfeed safe in the knowledge that any loss of elasticity has already happened either in pregnancy or in the days shortly after giving birth. Cheryl, bear this in mind if you’re thinking about having children, and if you’re really worried, consider adopting. In the meantime, it might be sensible to give up smoking…