The shape and size of your breasts change both before and after breastfeeding. To prepare for nursing, breast tissue and milk-producing glands enlarge and become fuller. Once you’ve finished breastfeeding, they shrink back down to their previous size. You may then notice that your breasts are softer and less full than when you were nursing, resulting in a droopy appearance.
The extent to which your breasts regain their pre-pregnancy size/shape depends on many factors, including age, weight gain during pregnancy, and even genetics. Also, if you’ve ever been a smoker, your skin may have less elasticity and therefore be prone to sagging.
During pregnancy, high levels of estrogen and progesterone affect the nipple area as well. Your nipples might increase in size, and the surrounding areolas can darken and develop striae, or lines.
Constant breastfeeding could also cause pain and soreness in your nipples. It’s unknown whether or not they’ll eventually return to their original shape and/or color.
Does breastfeeding lead to sagging?
Contrary to popular belief, studies show that breastfeeding is not directly related to droopy boobs. When you’re pregnant, the connective tissues in your breasts (known as Cooper’s ligaments) become stretched out. This means you may experience post-baby sagging even if you choose not to nurse your newborn.
Although circumstances such as age and genetics are beyond your control, there are still a number of ways you can help slow your boobs’ downward march.
1. Wear a supportive bra
Ensure your breasts remain well-supported through the inevitable changes of pregnancy by picking the right bra size. Wearing a poorly-fitted bra, especially when you’re physically active, could lead to pain and injury. Also remember to remove your bra before sleeping, as it hampers blood circulation.
2. Exercise regularly
Your breast glands, fat cells, and ligaments probably won’t benefit from working out, but the muscles below your breasts (called pectorals) can. Toning the pectoralis major and minor will give your boobs a slightly more lifted appearance. Consider adding push-ups, chest presses, and free weight exercises to your routine.
3. Moisturize and exfoliate your skin
Moisturize your skin daily, focusing on the chest area, in order to maintain firmness and hydration. Select a herbal lotion with natural extracts which nurtures taut, youthful-looking skin. Also, be sure to use a body scrub or loofah to gently exfoliate your breasts while bathing every day. The removal of dead cells improves blood circulation and restores elasticity.
4. Practice good posture
Hunched shoulders and poor posture equal unsupported breasts. If you’re not staying mindful of your posture, this will only add to their saggy appearance. Keep your shoulders back and your spine straight as much as possible.
5. Consume less animal fat
Stay in peak condition for nursing and trim unwanted pregnancy pounds by eating a well-balanced diet rich in whole grains and vegetables. Replace high-cholesterol, saturated animal fats with olive oil, vitamin B, and vitamin E which combat wrinkles and improve your skin’s tone and elasticity.
6. Stop smoking
Studies have shown that smoking significantly reduces your skin’s ability to repair any damage done to it. The regeneration of skin cells in your body is hindered by heavy tobacco use, leading to premature aging, dryness, and wrinkles. Preserve the shapeliness of your breasts by saying no to cigarettes.
7. Take hot and cold showers
Hot water opens your pores while cold water tightens them up. That’s why alternating between water temperatures in the shower is thought to be an effective method for boosting blood circulation. Increased blood flow creates even tone, delivers vital nutrients, and detoxifies your skin.
8. Nurse comfortably
Minimize stretching by propping your newborn up on a pillow and raising them to a comfortable height when breastfeeding. Try not to lean over or angle your breasts downward because over time, daily feedings will only aggravate droopiness.
9. Wean your baby slowly
If you’re ready to begin weaning your child, it’s wise to do so gradually to allow fatty tissues enough time to redeposit in your breasts. Decrease the frequency of nursing sessions little by little in order to restore your boobs’ pre-pregnancy form.
10. Lose weight slowly
Similar to weaning, post-baby weight loss is a process you should never rush. Give your body an opportunity to adjust to all of these changes. An abrupt shift in size produces loose, excess skin, especially around the breasts, which can no longer bounce back. Eat healthy and work out in moderation if you want to slim down in a safe and sustainable manner.