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There are many well-known and well-document benefits to breastfeeding. They range from fewer food allergies, to a reduced chance of obesity later in life, and protection from a range of illnesses. Breastfed children have been shown to have (slightly, yes) higher IQs than their formula-fed counterparts, and breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast cancer for mom. Yet, a recent study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin indicates that breastfeeding women are seen as... less competent than other women!

According to the researchers, who analyzed three previous studies on the topic, the problem with breastfeeding mothers was not necessarily the fact that they are mothers it was the actual breastfeeding that was seen as problematic. In one study, for instance, participants were told they were part of an experiment looking into first impressions people left, based on limited information. When asked about impressions the actress Brooke Shield, who wrote a book about motherhood, some participants were told that she wrote about experiences with breastfeeding, bathing and overall care of a newborn".

Others had "bottlefeeding" inserted instead of breastfeeding. The verdict was clear while those who thought the actress breastfed thought of her as warmer and friendlier, they thought she was less competent in general... and especially in math! How surprising. I, for one, know that breastfeeding is not only a sound decision when it comes to health, but it's also better for your pocket. I mean, breast milk is free! But there's more. Breastfeeding mothers got the lowest ratings in another experiment where women either went home to breastfeed, bath their baby, or put on a strapless bra. Any reference to breasts was bad. The bath mom won the biggest points, but the bra one was still preferred over the nursing mother, who was viewed significantly more negatively compared to the neutral voicemail on all measures of competence. Nice.

Asked whether the participants would give any of the described women a job, the breastfeeding mom drew the shortest straw once again, whereas mothers who were not breastfeeding were not given a lower rating. Interesting, and definitely food for thought. Something I can tell you for sure is that, while being a mom did limit me in the workplace in some ways, breastfeeding did not magically lower my IQ or make me incompetent. How about you? Also read, why is breastfeeding in public controversial? And comment if you want to!

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