The breast is a major distinctive feature and elegance of the physical appearance of a woman. Most women, therefore, wish that their breast could maintain the physical structure they had known before pregnancy and after years of weaning their children.
However, observations over the years have shown that there are inevitable changes to the breast in terms of its size, shape, and appearance as a woman transit to motherhood and undertake breastfeeding of kids over the year.
As women, most of us are agitated and worried about a lot of questions bothering on how can I manage breast sagging after breastfeeding? Can my breast regain the perky pre-pregnancy shape, size, and structure? Can I still have an attractive breast after breastfeeding?
The quest to answer these questions and increased focus towards the enhancement of physical appearance over the years has given birth to a growing breast implant and cosmetic surgery industry, the market size in the US was valued at USD 1.2 Billion in 2016.
The Grand View Research, Inc, estimated the global breast implants market to reach USD 2.0 billion by 2025.
How to stop the Sagginess?
Many people erroneously believe that breastfeeding is responsible for the sagginess of a woman’s breast, however more scientific research is now revealing that much of the sagginess or drooping boobs is due to the hormones secreted during pregnancy in preparation of a woman for her baby.
Sagginess of the breast can also be influenced by engorgement, posturing, inflammation, and breastfeeding. As a woman, the breast is a very important part of our body and we desire to take care of it and make it beautiful. We desire to maintain its perkiness, firmness and attractive tone.
The reality is that after breastfeeding the breast will never remain the same, just like an overstretched balloon that may not regain its previous elasticity. So, you are not alone. I must quickly reiterate that there are some exceptions to the rule but these are very few and it comes with a lot of discipline.
During pregnancy, nature prepares the woman’s body to carry and nurse her baby after delivery, mammary hormones are secreted preparing the breast for breastfeeding with the activation of milk ducts which grows bigger, changing the tone of the breast while the breast gets bigger to hold the milk of life. The breast droops under the weight of the milk and the force of gravity leading to a change in the angle of curvature (shape) of the breast in expectation of the new bundle of life.
Changes to your Breast after Breastfeeding
1. Asymmetrical Shrinkage
You should expect some shrinkage since the body milk began to dry-up, in extreme cases, the breast may end-up becoming smaller than before pregnancy. There has been an observation of one breast smaller than the other prior to pregnancy, this observation sometime may be due to the intensity and focus on a particular breast. However, this observation may even be different for different pregnancies. So, the equality/symmetrical shape and roundness you are familiar may likely change.
2. Re-setting Nipples
The bloated, rounded and stimulated nipples will gradually return to their original size and color (likely lighter and smaller than when you were breastfeeding) with extra veins also disappearing.
The nursing mum experiences some measures of sensitivities which is peculiar to her hormonal make-up due to some engorgement, breast feasting (biting toddlers), breast pain/tingling sensation, leakages, sense of fullness, infections (mastitis), restarting ovulation etc. This may persist for weeks or months, permanently changing the sensitivity of the breast.
4. Lumpy feeling
For mums that stopped breastfeeding suddenly at a time when they are still actively producing milk, while your milk dries up, you may experience some lumpy feelings/ appearance. This feeling is expected to be temporary, but if the feeling remains much longer, you have to visit your doctor to ensure that there are no other medical implications.
5. Stretch Marks
The stretch mark that appeared during pregnancy through breastfeeding and weaning procedures in most cases persist with some lasting impact on the color of the breast.
6. Return of the menstrual cycle
The breastfeeding period is a natural birth control period where a woman deals with only painful and leaking breast but no menstrual flow, however immediately after the weaning process has taken place, a woman should expect cramping and her period/ovulation to kick-in, this may result in another pregnancy. However, it should be noted that breastfeeding is not a 100% birth control solution.
How to get my breast back?
Is there an opportunity to reverse the negative traction of my saggy and droopy breasts? The answer to the question varies from yes to partially no and to no depending on the recovery approach undertaken by every one of us concerned. Let us discuss few of the approach available to getting back our chicky and perky boobs back.
1) Embrace Exercise
The breast consists of fatty tissues and is held up by some muscles, so you may not expect the reaction of a leg and arm muscles that tighten and firm-up quickly when subjected to intense exercise.
However, a young mother after breastfeeding (bf) can engage in some exercise to strengthen the muscles which in itself will hold-up the receding milk duct and fatty cells of the breast, the expected shape will gradually come back to shape. Chest, pectoral and back-muscle exercise will go a long way in the recovery process by building strength into the muscles that lift the breast.
This is both pre-pregnancy and post-pregnancy factors that women need to watch closely. It has been established that smoking, excess consumption of nicotine, alcohol, and carbonated beverages weakens the cellular structure leading to premature aging; being overweight or obese, and other genetic factors also contribute to droopy boobs.
In order to curtail the increased stretching over of the breast, nursing mums should avoid a slouching-over posture, don’t angle your breast down into your baby’s mouth but rather get a soft pillow to raise the baby up to your breast.
Women using skin tightening and lightening (toning) creams and lotions available in the market today may suffer negative side effects of these creams and lotion on their body, it is better to consult a cosmetologist before making your choice.
3) Fitting Bras
The skin of the breast needs a supportive bra to recede the potential droopiness due to the breast milk load. As a nursing mum, you will have various types of Bras;
the requirement during pregnancy will defer to during breastfeeding.
Some consultants advise that you wear it often, non-wired, with wide straps, with a minimum of internal seams, and even better without them.
It is better to go for breastfeeding bra that will not require to be taken off in order to feed the baby. Secondly, you will be able to feed the baby in the places where it is not appropriate to show the naked breast.
A nursing mum once reported that “My breasts are fine, having fed 2 kids for two years and 17 months respectively- they were saggy/weird/sad for a while after stopping, but they have definitely perked up in the meantime after picking and wearing the right bra size – I went from a 34c in marks and Spencer to a 30dd in John Lewis/Bravissimo and I can now run for a bus without holding my chest which I never could previously! My breasts are a different shape from before, but basically fine, so fear not, there is hope”!
4) Stop breastfeeding gradually
There are many reasons why nursing mum wants to quickly and fast-track the weaning of their children, this may however backfire. I will advise you to plan and make the weaning process a gradual one in order not to hurt your baby and yourself. A drastic stop to weaning is a shock to the actively producing milk duct of your breast, the fatty tissues remain while the duct continues to produce milk, you have to pump out and use many sudden recovery approaches which may affect the look, shape, and feel of your breast.
A nursing mom gave a testimony some years back “A year ago, I stopped breastfeeding after 3 years. I stopped gradually and after a few months, breasts (34B/34A) looked just the same as before I started – actually they even looked better – a bit fuller and nicer, more shapely, certainly as pert!!! But this might also be because of carrying an extra stone in weight which plumped them up.”
5) Shower System
It is advisable that when you shower, you use a mix of hot and cold water. This will improve your circulation and skin tone. A simple rinse of cold water after a steamy shower helps the skin around the breasts contract and lift. This method is as old as you may want to think. I will advise you to also adopt this shower system.
6) Weight Management
Pregnancy period is always accompanied by weight gain which also leads to an increase in the fatty tissues of the breast. However, breastfeeding for some nursing mom leads to a drastic reduction in the weight gained during pregnancy. The reduction in body weight and unfilled milk duct may not be proportionate to the shrinking of the breast fatty tissues which leads to some imbalances. So ensure that you lose weight gradually during breastfeeding to give sufficient room for a uniform change of your skin. So, it is essential that from the pregnancy stage until weaning you watch and manage your weight in order to achieve the shape you desire.
To regain back the firmness of your breast, you can cut down on the consumption of animal fat and concentrate on whole grains and veggies. The use of beauty creams (that has been avoided during breastfeeding), breast firmer, natural (olive &almond;) oil, and supplements will also enhance the firmness and tone of your breast.
Extra padding that comes with specialized bras or in stand-alone insertions is also available to enhance the desired appearance.
There have been cases where some approaches listed above have not had the desired results, some women have opted for breast reduction/lift and other cosmetology surgeries though this comes with a lot of cost implications.