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.