Motherhood Can Boost Self-Image & Body Satisfaction, New Study Reports

Mom holding newborn baby.
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According to new research by Professor Viren Swami of Anglia Ruskin University and academics from Sapienza University of Rome, becoming a mother can have positive implications on self-image and body satisfaction, reports Science Daily.

Published in the journal Body Image, the results of the study suggest that motherhood, more specifically the experience of breastfeeding a child, is correlated with higher levels of breast-size satisfaction.

Researchers looked at survey results from 484 Italian women, half of which were mothers. The mothers were asked to indicate whether they were dissatisfied with the size of their breasts and if they desired larger breasts.

The research discovered a significant link between perfectionistic self-presentation, which involves the desire to present oneself as flawless in the eyes of others, and dissatisfaction with breast size. Interestingly, this link was only found in the non-mothers, with 69 percent of non-mothers reporting breast dissatisfaction and 44 percent indicating a desire for larger breasts.

Professor Swami commented on the study’s findings, remarking that perfectionistic self-presentation tends to contribute towards negative body-image and adding that breast dissatisfaction was associated with higher levels of two of the three factors behind perfectionistic self-presentation — non-display of imperfection and perfectionistic self-promotion.

Furthermore, the social psychology expert expressed that the findings suggest that mothers are more comfortable with their bodies.

“There are a number of potential reasons why the association between perfectionistic self-presentation and breast size dissatisfaction was significant only amongst non-mothers. There is the fact that becoming a mother naturally results in changes to the appearance of the breasts, particularly in terms of their size.”

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Additionally, the professor thinks that the most relevant reason behind the study’s findings is that becoming a mother and focusing on breastfeeding changes the way a woman views her breasts and body. Instead of viewing their breasts as purely aesthetic, mothers experience firsthand the functionality of the body part and this additional perspective may contribute to higher levels of body satisfaction.

According to The Daily Mail, breastfeeding can have many other benefits for women, including potentially preventing post-natal depression. New research published in the journal Maternal and Child Health found that of the 14,000 women studied, those who intended to and went on to breastfeed their babies were 50 percent less likely to become depressed than mothers who did not.

Post-natal depression is not entirely understood and further research is needed to determine if a link exists between breastfeeding and lower risks of experiencing the illness.