Does breastfeeding make you look older? This was a question frequently asked during the 8 years I spent working in a perinatal care unit with new mothers and their babies when both were struggling from lack of sleep.
The answer is no. In fact, with the flood of hormones associated with breastfeeding, your skin will glow, and you will look younger. The best news for most of the mothers was that they lose weight quite easily post-pregnancy, especially when they are breastfeeding without restricting calories.
Getting Enough Sleep
Many new, first-time mothers are now 45 years old, and for the first 10-12 weeks, newborns often feed second or third hourly, and this does not allow the mother to get enough sleep. As we get older, it is a big ask to wake up constantly at night.
So, express some milk, and get your partner to do the 3 am feed while you sleep. Once you get past three months, everything becomes a bit easier, and there are enormous benefits to your baby in breastfeeding for as long as possible. The breastfeeding mother should eat plenty of healthy sustaining food and stay well hydrated to keep the milk flowing.
Many new mothers use a pacifier, but it is better not to until breastfeeding is established. The American Academy of Pediatrics advised not to introduce the pacifier until around four weeks.
We want babies to latch well and sucking, and often in those early days, you will feel that the baby is using you as a pacifier, but he is probably just hungry. Some babies never need a pacifier, and always remember that crying is how a baby communicates that they want something. Your baby’s steady weight gain will tell you that he is getting enough milk.
Breastfeeding is Tiring
Even if you are in your twenty’s breastfeeding can be very tiring, and some obstetricians recommend that you stay quietly at home for six to twelve weeks while you establish breastfeeding and the baby gets used to being here. During these early days, they don’t need too much stimulation. Just feed, change, have floor time and sleep (about 18 hours a day).
Especially if the baby is slightly premature, he has a lot of time to make up and some weight to gain. Try to rest when your baby sleeps.
Breastfeeding Takes Time to Establish
The more you feed, the more milk you will produce. If you find that feeding your baby is painful, consult a lactation consultant, as you may have cracked or damaged nipples.
It is always important to seek help, as you don’t want the baby to stop feeding. A consultant or breastfeeding nurse can suggest a better feeding position or give you some advice on latching.
The nurse will check the baby for a tongue tie, a common reason why babies don’t latch easily. Breastfeeding is great for bonding with your baby and holding your baby’s skin on skin where possible. If you have older children, get them involved in doing small tasks to help you better care for the baby.
Does Breastfeeding Make You Look Older?
You may certainly feel older, but you won’t look older, as most women don’t tend to biologically age until after the onset of menopause, and biologically breastfeeding has nothing to do with aging. However, once you finish breastfeeding, you will find that your breasts are not quite as firm as they were.
However, according to the WHO (World Health Organization) who recommend exclusively breastfeeding for six months. This is thought to benefit the mother as well as the child by decreasing her risk of breast cancer and cardiovascular disease later in life.
While you have been breastfeeding, your Cooper’s ligaments that support the breast stretch as your breasts grow. After you wean the baby, you may notice some stretch marks.
Your nipples may also remain larger. Once you have finished feeding, your ducts are no longer filled with milk, and as your breast tissue shrinks, it will often tighten, depending on your genetic elasticity. When you are under 30 years of age, often you will go back to how you were.
As you get older, the skin becomes less elastic. After two or three pregnancies, it is difficult for the breast tissue to go back to normal.
Caring for Your Breasts After Breastfeeding
- Wear a well-fitted supportive bra.
- Look after your skin and don’t allow it to become dry.
- Sometimes a topical steroid is recommended to prevent cracked nipples
- Once childbirth is behind you, you may find that your breasts have totally changed.
- If you have concerns about the changes, consider surgical options.
- Don’t consider surgery until you know that there won’t be any more children.
- Changes may occur to your breasts, but these changes are often temporary.
Breastfeeding and Postnatal Depression
A study from 2010 showed that women who breastfed their babies were at a lower risk of postnatal depression. Conducted in Spain and the UK, it surveyed 10,000 mothers.
The result was thought to be due to hormones, and when we ‘let- down’ breast milk, we release a hormone called oxytocin, the feel-good hormone. In turn, this makes us glow with good health, and no one will ask, does breastfeeding make you look older? When you look so well.
When breastfeeding doesn’t go well, the woman can feel like a failure and need support to prevent her from slipping into depression.
The takeaway from all this is that we will need support with breastfeeding, especially when we are first-time mothers. When you have a baby, the law now says that you should be able to feed anywhere, wherever you are. All the shopping centers have mothers’ rooms for feeding.
Conclusion Breastfeeding Does Not Make You Look Older
No, it doesn’t, but some societal attitudes to breastfeeding are very wearing, and we all want to do our best for our babies. Breastfeeding is very important, and as a society, it is our joint responsibility to help mothers raise well-nourished, healthy children.