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Pregnancy and breastfeeding can bring about some big changes in your life — and to your breasts. Since becoming a parent changes so much, it may come as no surprise that your post-breastfeeding breasts may barely resemble your pre-pregnancy ones. That said, not all changes are dramatic, and some people may only notice a slight difference in the appearance of their breasts. Pregnancy itself causes changes, which may continue through breastfeeding and beyond. During pregnancy, changing levels of estrogen, progesterone, and prolactin cause physiological changes to the breast tissue.
Milk ducts expand and blood flow increases. This may increase your cup size and make the veins in your breasts appear more prominent. You may also see stretch marks on your skin due to breast growth. Additionally, your nipples may go through some visible changes. But breastfeeding does have a definite and often permanent effect on breast tissues, explains Sherry A.
Hormonal changes, primarily caused by prolactin, make the breasts engorged with milk production. And if you already had breast stretch marks and prominent veins caused by pregnancy, Ross says they may intensify during breastfeeding changes. The increase in estrogen and mammary development that happens throughout pregnancy continues in the postpartum period. When you finish weaning from breastfeeding, your milk ducts are no longer filling with milk.
This may lead to a smaller volume of breast tissue. These include:. As you reach menopause, Franke says estrogen decreases, causing a reduction of fat in your breasts and a decrease in mammary ducts size. While you may not be able to completely reverse the effects of pregnancy and aging, there are some steps you can take to care for your breasts.
Shopping for any type of clothing after giving birth is probably the last thing on your mind, but finding a properly fitted and supportive bra is a game changer for your breasts. No matter what your breast size, proper support is key, points out Ross. Her advice? Get properly fitted for a bra that provides the much-needed support to breast tissue during typical daily activities. Choosing a bra that gives you a little lift will go a long way in shaping your post-nursing breasts — especially under clothing. Consider a shape-fitting bra that has cups made to fit the top of your breasts, but also provides the support and boost you desire for comfort and appearance.
Before you invest in a whole new lingerie wardrobe though, you may want to wait 3 to 6 months after breastfeeding to allow your body to adjust and for your breasts to settle into their new shape. You can then stock your drawers with all the fancy bras you want to flatter and support your new shape.
Franke says some women may experience skin dryness on breasts and other parts of the body. To help minimize dryness while breastfeeding and beyond, she recommends using an appropriate skin care lotion for your skin type. This is especially important as you age since your skin becomes drier and thinner. Take steps to treat nipple sensitivity , blistering, bleeding, and cracking. A few things that might help are:. In addition to the other health risks, smoking has an effect on the elasticity of your skin.
Talk to your medical practitioner about a smoking cessation program. All women have a degree of unevenness between their breasts. As your breasts enlarge during pregnancy, the differences can be more pronounced, as one breast may have more milk ducts or production capabilities. After breastfeeding, your breasts may be larger or smaller than they were before pregnancy. They may look different and feel different than they once did. Give yourself time to adjust to these changes. Some women will experience mastitis , which is an infection that can happen as a result of a plugged milk duct or broken skin on the nipples.
Additionally, if your nipples burn or feel sore, you could have thrush , which is a mild yeast infection. More often though, nipple pain can be a of a bacterial infection on the skin or the result of your baby having a poor latch. Continue with breast self-exams and let your provider know if you feel any new bumps or notice an increase in size in any existing ones.
Due to changes in their shape, some people opt for surgical changes to their breasts after breastfeeding. Certain surgical procedures to the breast can make it virtually impossible to breastfeed in the future. Additionally, future pregnancies will result in changes to the breast tissue, even after surgery. As with any major medical procedure, make sure to talk to your doctor about the pros and cons and any complications that could arise. Pregnancy and breastfeeding can cause your breasts to undergo ificant changes.
The good news is a lot of those changes are temporary. If you have concerns about the appearance of your breasts or any lumps and pain you might be noticing, talk to your care provider. You may have thought that when your baby was delivered the belly would, well, disappear? At least you didn't expect to still look a few months…. Between your dancing hormones and breastfeeding, your girls will never be the same.
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