Breastfeeding, body image, and weight control behavior among postpartum women

Meghan M. Gillen, Charlotte H. Markey, Diane L. Rosenbaum, Jamie L. Dunaev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The goal of this study was to examine breastfeeding behavior and attitudes as predictors of women's body image and weight control behavior. This study extends past research by focusing on positive body image variables including body appreciation and perceived body functionality. Women (N = 597) from the United States who had recently birthed biological babies ages 0–12 months participated in an online study. Current breastfeeding rates were high (86 %), and average breastfeeding duration was approximately 3 months. Women who were currently breastfeeding indicated more positive body images and less likelihood of engaging in maladaptive weight control behaviors than women who were no longer breastfeeding or had never breastfed their baby. Women's positive attitudes toward breastfeeding were associated with awareness and appreciation of body functionality and fewer maladaptive weight control behaviors. These findings extend research on the health benefits of positive body image and suggest that breastfeeding may occur within a constellation of beliefs and behaviors indicative of positive body image.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-209
Number of pages9
JournalBody Image
StatePublished - Sep 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • General Psychology


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