Aim: To investigate the association between breastfeeding and the perception that women have of changes in the appearance of their breasts.
Methods: Four hundred and ninety-six Italian women were interviewed in three health centres 18 mo (SD 3.4 mo, range 12.6-23.1 mo) after the birth of their first baby in May 2002. Information was collected on pregnancy, infant feeding and bra cup size before pregnancy. The main outcome measures were self-reported changes in the appearance of the breasts (enlargement or reduction in breast size and loss of firmness) and bra cup size at the time of the interview.
Results: Seventy-three percent of the mothers reported that their breasts were different compared with before pregnancy; enlargement and loss of firmness representing the most common changes. The prevalence of changes among the mothers who had and had not breastfed was 75% and 69%, respectively (relative risk: 1.09, 95% CI: 0.96-1.23). Bra cup size before pregnancy was neither associated with the frequency of breastfeeding nor with the occurrence of changes in the appearance of the breasts.
Conclusions: In Italy, mothers frequently report that the size and the shape of their breasts have changed after childbirth, but these changes do not seem to be associated with breastfeeding.