Though breastfeeding is infinitely rewarding, it’s natural for some mums to worry about how it will affect the appearance of their breasts. Mums may wonder: will my breasts still be as firm or shapely after nursing my little one? Much of the answer is, “It depends.” But one thing is sure: to prevent saggy breasts, it’s best to prepare as early as possible.
Breast involution, or the returning of breasts to their former size and shape, usually occurs six months after you wean your baby.
Breasts can return to their former appearance, shrink, or become enlarged following breastfeeding.
Not all women who breastfeed will develop saggier breasts. But some women experience severe breast involution, which causes their breasts to appear droopy or deflated. This is because the size of the skin around the breast doesn’t change even if the breast tissue has shrunk.
Why does this happen exactly? How do you prevent saggy breasts?
Throughout pregnancy, the Cooper’s ligaments, which connect the chest and breast muscles, stretch and weaken. As a result, breasts can increase in size, which is believed to be the body’s way of preparing for nursing.
The extent of breast sagging will depend on your age, genes, and lifestyle.
As a woman ages, her skin elasticity weakens. Breast size is believed to be inherited. Smoking has also been known to lessen the skin’s elasticity.
Breast size will also depend on the number of pregnancies. Naturally, the more kids you have, the higher the chances your breasts will change in shape and firmness.
Your breast size pre-pregnancy is also a factor. If your breasts are naturally small and rounded at the bottom, they have a higher chance of maintaining their shape, unlike larger, elongated breasts.
Excessive weight gain could also lead to increased breast stretching. And breastfeeding is a factor as well.
Can saggy breasts be prevented while you are still breastfeeding?
Yes. One way is to wear a maternity or nursing bra that provides adequate support to your ligaments. Gravity can work overtime, especially if your breasts are enlarged. To help prevent any negative effects, you can wear this bra all day and all night. Just make sure it’s not too tight.
Controlling weight gain and avoiding sudden weight loss can help lessen the risk of sagging. Try to eat less animal fat, and eat more whole grains, food rich in vitamin B, and green vegetables to help maintain your breasts’ tone and elasticity.
Make sure your skin is sufficiently moisturised. Why? Dry skin tends to become less elastic. Just make sure the product you choose is safe for nursing mums.
When showering, alternate between hot and cold water while massaging your breasts. This helps improve skin tone and circulation. Remember to always finish with cold water.
Most of all, make sure you wean your baby gradually.
Aside from these five guidelines, there are two often-overlooked prevention measures that can greatly help prevent breast sagging if done regularly.
1. To prevent saggy breasts, work on your posture
Be careful with your position when breastfeeding. Make sure that you assume a breastfeeding position that goes against gravity.
An example of this is nursing while sitting upright, leaning back and using a nursing pillow for support.
2. To prevent saggy breasts, do special exercises
Contrary to what some may believe, exercising doesn’t affect milk supply. Exercises that help strengthen chest muscles can do wonders in preventing misshapen breasts.
You can try the dumbbell pull-over. Lie back on a bench with both feet firmly on the floor. Then lift two dumbbells overhead repeatedly.
You can do full or half push-ups. Or you can try kneeling while exercising the upper half of your body. Just make sure your hands are placed parallel to one another and that you lower yourself as far as you can go, but don’t force it. This is a great workout for your arms, back and core.
Another way to tone your upper body is by lifting dumbbells in each hand and pulling them towards your chest then extending outward in successive movements.
Make sure you consult your physician before engaging in any form of exercise postpartum, especially if you underwent a caesarean section.