Help! What's Happening to My Breasts? Breastfeeding and Breast Changes

Your body undergoes a massive change during pregnancy. One of the first things to change is your breasts. Many women feel that their pregnant belly "pops" or really begins to show around 20 weeks. By then your breasts have probably grown as much as they will. For some women this growth is gradual while for others it is very sudden and even creates stretch marks. This growth is caused by the proliferation of the ductule system and milk making tissue in your breast. .

For many women, their areolas become darker and small bumps surrounding the nipples become prominent. These are Montgomery glands and are perfectly normal. These changes are temporary.

Post Partum

Those new, larger bras you bought while you were pregnant will probably be small on you when your milk first comes in following the birth. This increase in size does not last long. As your milk supply balances out to meet your baby's intake, your breasts return to a more normal size and become softer.

The blood supply to your breasts increases and causes visible blue veining. These veins will disappear when you are done breastfeeding.

Shrinking Breasts

Women who nurse past infancy often seem to think that their breasts are shrinking. Breastfeeding is like exercise for the breasts and actually burns off some of the fat that gives the breasts their shape and size. Women who nurse for several years find that their breasts feel deflated. Researchers found that the fat is redeposited after weaning and that breast mass is only slightly less after breastfeeding, if at all.

Sagging Breasts

Many women attribute breastfeeding as the cause of their sagging breasts. Plastic surgeons who perform breast lifts and augmentations studied the reasons for sagging breasts and found no correlation with breastfeeding. As mentioned above, the majority of breast growth occurs during pregnancy, and indeed the more times a woman has been pregnant the more her breasts will sag.

Researchers also found that smoking leads to sagging breasts. Smoking negatively affects a protein in our skin called elastin. Elastin keeps skin looking youthful and helps to support your breasts. Yet another reason not to smoke.

Back To Normal

Just as your pregnant belly will go back to its pre pregnant size, so will your breasts. Pregnancy might make them somewhat saggier but breastfeeding won't.