Body worries turn mums off breastfeeding

body image

Our bodies change dramatically during pregnancy, and it bothers some women more than others. And now it’s believed that how much mums-to-be worry about their appearance influences their breastfeeding decisions.

In a study published in the Midwifery journal, researchers followed 128 women during pregnancy and until six months after birth. They found women who were more concerned about their body changes and diet during pregnancy were less likely to want to breastfeed, or to actually go ahead with breastfeeding after the birth.

And mums with higher body image concerns who stopped breastfeeding before six months were likely to have done so because they were embarrassed about their appearance or worried about the impact breastfeeding may have upon their breast shape.

“The findings are important to those working with women during pregnancy and the post-partum period in understanding the impact of body image upon intention and ability to initiate and continue breastfeeding,” the study says.

Study leader Dr Amy Brown, of Swansea University’s College of Human and Health Sciences, says women’s feelings during pregnancy are driving their choices after their baby is born, rather than their actual experience of breastfeeding.

“It is likely that low confidence and anxiety about their appearance, potentially driven by the rise of celebrity culture and pressure to lose weight quickly after the birth, could be affecting choice to breastfeed,” she tells HealthCanal. “We need to raise awareness of positive body image during breastfeeding and reduce this unhealthy pressure on new mums to return to ‘normal’ and not look like they have been pregnant immediately after their baby is born.”


  1. I breastfed for 11 months I hate to beginning but enjoyed it after that. Sure I’m not happy with the shape of my breasts now I would love my pre baby boobies back, but I love that I was one of the lucky women that was able to successfully breastfeed. It is so stressful and tough in the beginning but I am proud I made it to 11 months. I gave my daughter the best start to life and in the process I also lost my pregnancy weight quickly because I breastfed.

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  2. I fully agree with the article. I lost 34kg with Weigh-less whilst I was still enjoying my goal weight I became pregnant. I was just devastated because of the weight i was going to gain and all the body changes.I have given birth and I gained 20kg during my pregnancy but have so far lost 11kg as I am breastfeeding.Breastfeeding does help in losing weight that is why i have decided to continue with it until I go back to work.

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  3. I don’t quite understand the connection these women are making between body image concerns and breastfeeding? The two seem relatively unrelated to me. I really hope there aren’t any women out there so shallow that they would choose to deny their child the benefits of breast milk just in case their boobs change shape.
    Personally I didn’t know how I would go but ended up feeding my first baby for two years, and by his first birthday I had gone down to a size 10 from a 14. No exercise, no dieting, just pure breastfeeding power!

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  4. What caused me the most trouble with BF was that my breasts were TOO LARGE when the baby came. I am naturally a very well endowed lady. Pregnancy blew things out of the water, gave me flat nipples, and nothing but latch issues. It was devastating.

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  5. Pregnancy changes the shape of your breasts not breastfeeding.

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  6. I think breastfeeding gave me a better body. My breasts haven’t changed at all and I was so much more conscious of what I was eating ad drinking so my son wouldn’t get it in his milk that ended up dropping from a size 14 (pre-baby) to a size 10!

    I love the bond it’s given my son and I and I think I take better care of myself because if it.

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