It’s no secret that having a baby changes your body — specifically, your breasts. During pregnancy, your body gets ready to nourish your little one, and as part of that preparation, your breasts swell up and your nipples/areolas get larger and darker while the milk comes in. But what about after the baby is born?
There are a number of ways breastfeeding can impact your breasts. You may have heard about stretch marks, sore nipples, and even some milk leakage as some of the possible effects on your boobs. But there are many others you may notice as well.
Here are a few changes you should know about — plus what you can do to deal with them:
Lumps and bumps
While it’s always a good idea to have a doctor check out any lumps you find in your breasts just to be on the safe side, consider this: if you’re breastfeeding, they may very well be nothing to be concerned about. That’s because a lumpy appearance or feeling can simply be a consequence of the milk drying up. According to Redbook Mag, this is especially common if you stopped breastfeeding suddenly as opposed to weaning your baby off over a longer period. Luckily, once your body finishes the weaning process, those lumps should disappear.
If you’re feeling a little self-conscious about your breasts’ bumpy appearance, a padded bra or even one with some medium to thick lining can help to make them look smoother — for example, a T-shirt bra is a stellar choice for smoothing things out.
As your breasts begin producing milk, they become gradually engorged. In turn, this stretches out the skin around the breasts. But once you stop breastfeeding and milk production slows down, the glands return to their normal size and your breasts are not quite as dense any more. As a result, your boobs may look a bit saggy or deflated — typically toward the upper part of the breasts.
Don’t stress, though. There are ways to cope with this change — it all comes down to wearing the right bra. A push-up bra can help fight any sagginess you may have noticed by providing plenty of lift. Also, a contour bra (or really any kind of molded bra) does a phenomenal job of shaping the breasts. Both of these options will support the breasts in such a way that they look perky and full all over, as opposed to shallow at the top. Also, doing chest exercises (like dumbbell flyes, pushups, and bench presses) can strengthen the muscles beneath the breast tissue, potentially providing a bit of lift.
So, your breasts obviously increase in size over the course of your pregnancy and as you prepare to breastfeed. But if it seems like they start to shrink once you start the weaning process, you’re not imagining things: this is a very common change women experience when they stop breastfeeding. As the milk dries up, those glands that were responsible for producing it deflate back to their normal size. Of course, every woman is different, so there is no “normal” for how much your size changes. Some women will essentially maintain the larger cup size they achieved during pregnancy, some women will shrink back to their normal size, and some will end up with smaller breasts than before they got pregnant. Whatever you experience, rest assured that size changes — however subtle or noticeable — are totally normal.
If the shrinkage you experience bothers you, wearing a padded bra can help you to gain back a fuller appearance. But at the end of the day, it’s a good idea to embrace your new breast size. Who knows? You may be surprised at the perks to having smaller breasts, and feel confident enough to try out some new clothing or lingerie styles.
Breastfeeding is a memorable experience for any new mom — one that can be quite bonding with a new child. Sure, you may notice some shifts to your bust line, but many of these can be counteracted. Wearing a well-fitting nursing bra is supremely important as it ensures you’re getting adequate support for your breasts, thereby minimizing any unnecessary strain on the ligaments that hold your breasts up and keep them looking perky. So, if you haven’t been measured by a professional since having your baby, it’s a good idea to get fitted before investing in any nursing bras. This is because your bra size can change by up to a cup size or more. A pro can help you to find a nursing bra that will fit you flawlessly, which will make breastfeeding a more comfortable, enjoyable experience overall.