Originally posted on http://www.rcm.org.uk/midwives/blog/saying-no-to-breastfeeding/ Royal College of Midwives online
15.27, 19 August 2010
A poll of young women finds a third would shun breastfeeding because they want to avoid saggy boobs. For some, vanity is the overriding factor when weighing up the pros and cons of breastfeeding. It seems a sad indictment of young women’s priorities when a baby’s health comes second to their looks. Or is it?
The survey of 1228 women between 18 and 25 follows the recent furore caused by model Gisele Bundchen who proclaimed there should be a law to force mothers to breastfeed their babies for at least six months.
Half of the women polled by BabyChild.org.uk would fall foul of Gisele’s law because they had no plans to breastfeed. And 32% of them said the main reason was because they did not want to ‘ruin the look of their breasts’. Half of them were afraid of their partner finding them less attractive should this happen.
Another 19% felt ‘uncomfortable’ about the thought of breastfeeding, a quarter of whom said they viewed their breasts as sexual and therefore deemed it inappropriate.
All these arguments seem feeble and bizarre when stacked against the benefits of breastfeeding. What about protecting the baby against obesity, asthma and childhood diabetes? What about helping the baby avoid ear, urine and gastro-intestinal infections?
I suspect that another benefit of breastfeeding would hold greater sway for those polled, which is that it can speed up weight loss during pregnancy.
My reason? Because the young women surveyed were childless and, at their stage of life, sexual attractiveness and looks are of great importance. They have no particular reason to know about the benefits of breastfeeding – more than three quarters of those who were against the idea believed their decision would not harm the baby’s health.
The findings of the poll would be much more worrying if they were the views of pregnant 18 to 25 year olds. But for childless young women to voice an uninformed opinion on breastfeeding is, perhaps, unsurprising.