By Dami Adeoye
We’ve heard, s breastfeeding an exclusive reserve of the husband or baby? It is a topic that draws heated arguments every time the breasts and babies are mentioned.
Irene is a young mother who delights in sticking to lessons learnt on exclusive breastfeeding during antenatal classes. Her pay-off is to practice exclusive Breastfeeding for six months and continue breastfeeding for upward of two years.
However, she cannot stop ruminating over the popular belief that prolonged suckling by a baby will make her develop sagging breasts.
She ponders on the possibility that her husband may soon find her unattractive if she critically adhere to this method of breastfeeding and consequently replace her with a shapelier woman.
She concluded within herself to tow the line of many mothers before her who had not exclusively breastfed their babies but chose her preference( to reserve her breasts) for her husband.
After all, babies have been surviving without noticeable deficiencies she thought and her baby will enjoy her during the period, and in return, she can stay attractive and safe in her marriage.
Irene’s story is one that resonates in our society today.
One of the reasons many young mothers desist from breastfeeding their infants exclusively, is the fear of developing overtly sagged pair of breasts.
Exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) which is the practice whereby an infant receives only breast milk for the first six months of life has overtime been lauded by health organizations such as World Health Organisation (WHO) and Save the Children. Though awareness has increased in recent times, it appears however that no landmark impact has been made.
According to WHO, only 38% of infants ie 38 out of every 100 infants, from 0 to 6months are globally exclusively breastfed.
Breast milk has been proven to contain immunological and anti-inflammatory properties that protect an infant from childhood diseases such as diarrhoea and pneumonia thereby improving growth, development and health.
It contains a significant nutritious component that helps reduce child mortality. Not only these, it is proven to satisfy the mother-baby bond which many women crave.
With these benefits, one would wonder why mothers who are believed to be the custodian of life find it difficult to adhere to the requirement of 6months exclusively breastfeeding and continued for two years on complementary breastfeeding.
Blames are traded and questions are raised on why should babies be deprived survival opportunity and even the chance of being cerebral in future?
Should the husband be blamed for constantly desiring an attractive wife? Should a woman be blamed for choosing to stay attractive for her husband? Where then lies the motherly instinct to protect the child at all cost?
More than any time in history, today’s woman is under pressure to constantly look attractive for her partner who in turn revels in flaunting his “prized possession”. However, with increase in awareness on healthy living and cosmetic surgery, women appear to have less excuse for flabby breasts.
According to research findings, breastfeeding does not cause breasts to sag.
But weight gained during pregnancy makes the breasts fuller and heavier which in turn stretches the ligaments. Subsequently, as weight fluctuates, milk glands contract and expand thereby causing sagging breasts.
There are other reasons too.
How then can a woman prevent sagging breasts instead of denying her infant baby milk?
Ways To Prevent Sagging Breasts include:
- Maintain healthy weight: Keep your weight to a recommended level while pregnant and after to prevent the ligaments from stretching and thereafter losing elasticity.
- Ensure proper support: wearing a well fitted and supportive bra is important; this can be professionally done at lingerie stores. It maintains the shape and lifts the breasts.
- Stop smoking: carcinogens in cigarette smoke speed up the breaking down of the collagen and elastin fibres responsible for making breast skin firm.
- Exercise regularly: regular exercise will help keep the body in shape and prevent excess fat in the breast area. Exercise provides an all round healthy body which ensures healthy breasts.
Indeed, to ensure effective adherence to Exclusive Breastfeeding by mothers, a good deal of advocacy needs to be done to debunk the thought of sagging breasts and marital insecurity.
Most importantly, men should take up the plunge in advocating EBF; and not just on World Breastfeeding Week, since they appear to be the root cause why most women are not courageous enough to practice it. Men should also stop dissuading their wives from practicing EBF since it’s not an exclusive reserve for husbands.