A recent survey carried out by BabyChild.org.uk has found that a frightening amount of young women aged 18-25 would avoid breastfeeding out of fear of ruining the look of their breasts.
Out of the women surveyed, all of which were childless at the time of the study, 49% of them said they wouldn’t breastfeed a baby. Only 35% said they would definitely breastfeed. When asked for reasons why they wouldn’t breastfeed, 32% said they were scared of ruining the look of their breasts. They were concerned that maybe their partners wouldn’t find them attractive any more, or that they would lose confidence in their bodies.
So why do women put vanity over their child’s health?
The answer here must be this: they simply don’t realise the impact that formula feeding from birth will have on their child’s future health. Indeed, out of the women surveyed who said they would not breastfeed their children, 77% of them believed that it would not have a negative effect on their baby’s health.
Furthermore, the study showed that 19% of the young women planning to formula feed would do so because they found the thought of breastfeeding ‘uncomfortable’, due to viewing the breasts as sexual objects and therefore deeming breastfeeding as an inappropriate act.
Clearly, not enough is being done to educate young women about the importance of giving human babies human milk. There does appear to be a stereotype, here in the UK at least, that young mums are less likely to breastfeed. Indeed, a good friend of mine had her first baby aged 16 and never breastfed, but her second child, born when she was 22, was fed until the age of 14 months. Perhaps, in some cases, it’s down to peer pressure and social expectation within the mothers’ group of friends. Indeed, most young girls are more easily affected by social standards and expectation.
It also doesn’t help that the bottle companies continually market their products towards younger mums; one particular company I can think of sells pretty pink or blue bottles with funky, modern designs on them, clearly made to appeal to the younger generation.
I think the key to changing young women’s views on breastfeeding is young people themselves. One girl I know who comes to our breastfeeding group is a true inspiration; she was only just 17 when she gave birth to her daughter. She has brought her up alone for the most part, and is still breastfeeding her at 10 months of age (with no plans to stop). It’s young girls like her who are the trailblazers who will change a generation’s outlook.