If you’re considering breastfeeding, but are concerned that doing so may change the appearance of your breasts, you’re not alone. It’s a common misconception breastfeeding alters the appearances of breasts, however, it’s the changes your body experiences during pregnancy and after birth that really affect how your breasts look.
How your breasts look after pregnancy and breastfeeding is largely determined by the shape and size of your breasts prior to pregnancy. Breasts are primarily composed of glandular (milk) and fatty tissue. The size of your breasts is determined by a number of factors, such as body weight, genetics, and age. The shape of your breasts is determined by genetics, and muscle and ligament strength.
From the minute you become pregnant, your body starts preparing for the birth of your baby. To prepare for the arrival of your little one, your body begins to increase blood flow to your breasts, which helps support milk production and growth. Breasts during pregnancy typically grow larger in size and become firmer as milk ducts expand (to make milk).
An increase in hormones can darken your nipple and areola (area around the nipple), and cause more hair growth on your breast. As you near your due date, your body will begin to produce colostrum (a special milk that is high in carbs). Although some women experience breast tenderness and sensitivity throughout their pregnancy, many women report these symptoms as the production of colostrum starts.
Whether you decide to breastfeed or not, your body will continue the process of producing milk after birth. Most mothers’ milk “comes in” around the fourth or fifth day postpartum. Some women experience engorgement at this point, especially women who have chosen not to breastfeed. Engorgement of the breasts can stretch skin and ligaments, which can affect the breast’s shape after milk production has stopped.
After milk production has stopped or you have weaned your baby, your breasts typically return to their pre-pregnancy shape and size. However, many women experience a change in the shape and size of their breasts whether they have breast fed or not. Some women may experience a change:
Your breasts can change with each pregnancy too, so don’t worry if your breasts look or feel a little different than how they felt with a prior pregnancy.
Although the process of bringing a life into this world can forever change your body, particularly your breasts, there is no greater experience. Your body was home to your precious little one and the changes to it should only be a symbol as to how beautiful a process pregnancy and birth is. Your body is more beautiful for it!