Conventional wisdom now says that breastfeeding is one of the best ways to ensure that your baby is getting the nutrients that he or she needs, especially during those critical first 6 months of life.
Sadly, many women avoid breastfeeding because they’re under the impression that breastfeeding can have a negative effect on their body – that their breasts will sag or droop because of nursing.
But does breastfeeding affect the shape and size of your breasts? Breastfeeding mamas rejoice! Science says no.
It’s actually a myth that breastfeeding changes the shape and size of your breasts – the changes that breastfeeding mums observe is actually a byproduct of pregnancy, not breastfeeding.
During pregnancy, your body, including your breasts, will start to change to prepare for the arrival of the little one. With heightened levels of estrogen and progesterone, you may notice that you can go up several cup sizes.
In fact, some of these changes can occur as early as a few days after conception! Your breasts will start to become larger to prepare your body for breastfeeding. Your nipples and areola may also start to get darker.
The effect of breastfeeding on breast aesthetics
A 2008 study shows that breastfeeding was not found to be an independent risk factor for breast ptosis, more commonly known as breast sagging.
The factors that did impact whether a woman’s breasts will sag postpregnancy were identified as greater age, higher body mass index, greater number of pregnancies, larger pre-pregnancy bra size, and smoking.
Your breasts are made up of fatty breast tissue and connective tissue known as Cooper’s ligaments. As your breasts increase in size during and after pregnancy, the connective tissue will stretch to accommodate for these changes.
When you stop breastfeeding, your breasts should start to return to their prepregnancy size. There may be some stretch marks left over as a legacy of the pregnancy, but generally, there is no need for any sort of medical intervention.
What can I do to prevent my breasts from sagging?
- Stay healthy, eat well, and maintain a healthy weight
Based on the results of the study, it’s very important for mums to maintain a healthy body mass index, even before she becomes pregnant. The state of your health prior to pregnancy can impact how well you recover after.
There are some experts that promote eating pomegranate for breast firmness, as it’s rich in nutrients that can lead to firm breasts.
- Drink lots of water
Of course! Water is the heart of life and can have positive benefits for breast firmness as well. When you’re not well hydrated, it can make the skin over your breast look shrunken and lead to premature aging. If this goes on for an extended period of time, it can make your breasts lose its firmness.
- Stop smoking
It’s also very important to stop smoking. Not only does smoking increase your chance of breast sagging, but your baby’s SIDs (Sudden infant death syndrome) risk also increases dramatically. If both parents smoke, baby’s SIDs risk is 3 and a half times higher than if neither parent smokes.
Wear well-fitted bras
You can make sure that you are supporting your breasts with a well-fitted bra. Wearing a bra that fits well can keep your breasts firm AND make sure that your back is well supported.
Need help? Don’t fret!
In doubt that breastfeeding may affect the shape and size of your breasts? Please refer to a lactation consultant, who can offer you more personalised advice according to you and your baby’s situation.
This article was first published on AfricaParent.com