During pregnancy most women experience an increase in their breast size. Whilst breastfeeding the change can be even more pronounced and depending on milk supply and feeding patterns, regular change is to be expected.
The breast goes through significant change during both pregnancy and nursing. The increase and associated change will cause the skin to stretch and contract, putting a fair degree of stress on the skin to adapt based on breast mass. Once you do stop feeding, a loss of mass could create sagging.
The ability for the skin to recover from stretch is largely down to genetics and the physics of weight and stress the skin is put under. Whilst there’s no miracle cure for sagging, a few things can help prevent extensive sagging and preserve a younger more youthful appearance after pregnancy.
Why do breasts sag after pregnancy/nursing?
Our breasts are attached to our muscles by Cooper’s Ligaments. The ligaments are like large rubber bands that hold the breast into position.
Tension on the ligaments starts as early as pregnancy. It is during the first trimester that most women will experience a rapid increase in breast size. The increased size and weight of the breast puts added strain onto the ligaments causing them to stretch slightly (sag).
When a women’s milk comes in, her milk ducts grown in size, resulting in a larger heavier breast. This adds a greater strain on the ligaments causing them to stretch even further.
Over time the Cooper’s ligaments will begin to lose their elasticity much like a rubber band that has been stretched for a long period of time. Women who breastfeed for extended periods of time will possibly put added pressure on the ligaments, resulting in sag.
What other factors can cause breasts to sag?
An unhealthy diet and age are two other factors that can lead to premature sagging of the breast.
A diet high in sugar, alcohol and nicotine weakens the skin structure causing premature sagging.
Research has suggested that women who fall pregnant and breastfeed in their 30’s have an increased risk of breast sagging. This is because as we age our body loses elasticity faster.
What can I do to help prevent my breasts from sagging?
Wear a good supportive bra
Wearing a good maternity and nursing bra during pregnancy and while breastfeeding is important. A woman’s breast will weigh significantly more and it needs to be supported.
A good supportive bra should fit correctly. It should feel comfortable and hold your breasts firmly in place in an upright position We recommend you get fitted to ensure you are wearing the right size.
A healthy diet will help retain healthy skin and reduces the risk of obesity. An unhealthy weight can lead to additional fat stores and an increased bust size.
Drink plenty of water
Keeping your body well hydrated will help to ensure your skin remains youthful and nourished, reducing your risks of wrinkling and dehydration. A healthy skin will perform better!
Moisturizing your skin and avoiding it from drying out will help it cope better with the stretch & loss of mass cycles.
Regular exercise will help to keep your skin firm and will help to reduce the amount of body fat you carry. Light to moderate levels of exercise during pregnancy is recommended too, to help minimize unnecessary weight gain.
If you are new to exercise, and need to loose weight, start off slow to ensure weight loss is gradual. This will also help prevent skin tissue build up in too short a period of time.
What exercises will help to firm up my saggy breasts?
Cardio work alone will not tone and build muscle mass. In order to help firm excess skin, particularly around your chest area, you will need to participate in some type of weight or resistance training.
Join a gym and discuss with your PT your problem areas. Specific exercises will be given to help target and tone your chest.
It is important to remember that you will never completely eliminate saggy breasts, toning and strengthening the area will help to improve the appearance but will never completely eliminate the problem.
What should I do when I stop breastfeeding?
You will notice over time that your breasts will decrease not only in size, but mass too. Most women find that after breastfeeding they are a completely new bra size compared to what they were pre pregnancy.
It is my recommendation that you should go and get fitted by a professional bra fitter when you old bras no longer fit properly. This will help to ensure your breasts continue to be properly supported and reduce any further sag.
A good fitting bra will help to lift your breasts into place and provide them with much needed support and comfort.