Before you got pregnant, you were probably already expecting the inevitable body changes involved with having children. You probably expected to gain weight, to notice a change in your hair and maybe to develop that pregnancy glow. What you might not have expected were the dramatic changes to your breasts that can occur as a result of pregnancy and breastfeeding.
While the chance to breastfeed is an experience many women wouldn’t trade for anything in the world, it can still cause some major physical changes. Changes can vary from woman to woman, but here’s a general idea of what you can expect to experience after breastfeeding.
Changes in the Skin
When you breastfeed, your body creates additional milk-producing cells to keep your little one fed. The flow of milk through your breasts and the volume of milk (up to one liter per day) can affect the size of your breasts while you’re nursing. The high volume of milk can cause the skin to stretch.
After you’ve weaned your baby, your body will clean up the extra milk-producing cells. Your breasts might go back to their original “pre-baby” size or they might be a little bigger or smaller. Your skin, on the other hand, might be permanently stretched out. Many women notice that the skin around their breasts becomes saggier and looser after breastfeeding.
Changes in the Size
During pregnancy, it’s common for your breasts to get bigger as a result of hormones, weight gain, and the body prepping itself for milk production. The increased breast size is likely to continue as you breastfeed.
But once you wean your baby, all bets are off. Some women keep their larger breasts while others notice that they shrink. It’s actually more common for breasts to shrink and become even smaller than they were before pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Changes in Symmetry
You might notice that your breasts change in position or shape after you breastfeed. Many women’s breasts are slightly asymmetrical to start with. The changes that occur with pregnancy can highlight this unevenness.
For example, in some cases, one breast will fill up with more milk than the other one. The enlarged breast might experience more changes after breastfeeding, such as more sagging skin or an overall change in size and shape as compared to the other breast.
Changes in the Nipples
Your nipples change throughout pregnancy and when breastfeeding. During pregnancy, it’s common for the nipples to darken and get bigger. As the glands around the areola get bigger, it’s common for the nipples to protrude from the breasts even more.
Once you stop breastfeeding, you can expect your nipples to change again. They usually get smaller and are likely to become lighter in color.
Remember: Everyone is Different
Breastfeeding doesn’t change every women’s breasts in exactly the same way. You might hear stories from your friends about how breastfeeding left them with breasts that were deflated and saggy, but you might not have the same experience. Several factors can influence the changes that happen as a result of breastfeeding.
Your age, skin elasticity, your history of smoking, and your weight or body mass index might all play some role in determining how your breasts change from breastfeeding. The number of kids you’ve had and how long you breastfed also play a part.
It’s also worth noting that how quickly you wean your children can affect your breasts too. Women who stop breastfeeding suddently might be more likely to notice lumpiness in their breasts as their milk dries up compared to women who wean their children slowly.
Not Happy With Your Breasts?
While you love your kids and are probably happy to have had the chance to breastfeed them and nurture them during the first months and years of their lives, you might be less than thrilled about how your breasts look today.
Fortunately, you have a variety of options if you aren’t happy with your post-baby breasts. If you’re finished having children and finished breastfeeding, you might want to consider breast surgery to either restore your breasts to their pre-baby size and shape or get the size and shape you’ve always wanted.
Breast augmentation with implants can increase the size of your breasts while a breast lift can elevate breasts that have become saggy or droopy. Many women find that combining the two surgeries helps them get the look they want and restores their confidence in their appearance after breastfeeding.
Dr. Paul Vitenas is a board-certified plastic surgeon who specializes in breast surgeries at his Houston, Texas practice. If you have noticed changes in your breast following pregnancy and breastfeeding, call 281-484-0088 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Vitenas and to learn more about how you can feel confident about your breasts again.