When you decide to have a baby, you know the next nine-plus months will bring some major changes to your body. But while we talk a lot about baby bumps and stretching stomach skin, we don’t hear as often about what really happens to our breasts during and after pregnancy.
From birth to breastfeeding and back to the start, your breasts go through several transformations worth getting real about. Here’s a rundown of everything you need to know about breasts after baby before you have a little one of your own.
Swelling or enlargement kicks off as soon as pregnancy begins, but it becomes a whole new game once your baby is born. One new mom joked to Today’s Parent that she “didn’t know that bra size existed.” Many women experience an increase in size so significant, it quickly becomes clear why the beginning stage of breastfeeding is called “engorgement.” Frequent feeding will help ease any tightness or fullness you feel, and applying ice for ten minutes at a time may calm down redness and inflammation.
To a certain degree, you can expect a cycle of swelling and shrinking (filling and emptying) to continue as long as you are breastfeeding. The expanding and contracting process may cause stress on your skin as it stretches and shrinks, which can lead to long-term changes in breast shape.
Many women report sagginess, a loss of volume, and other changes in shape that last long after their body recovers from giving birth. Here’s a little visual imagery for you: Vogue quoted a few moms’ descriptions of their new breasts as “tube socks full of quarters,” “egg yolks dripping down a wall,” and “deflated water balloons.”
It’s no surprise cosmetic procedures have become a go-to option in recent years, with breast lift popularity, in particular, rising 70 percent since 2000, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
Doctors, like board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Dax Guenther, who specializes in plastic surgery and breast augmentation in Boston, are helping moms boost their post-baby confidence with procedures specifically designed to help “restore volume that has diminished with age, pregnancy, or weight loss.” Lifts, implants, reductions, or a custom combination of procedures may bring your size and shape closer to what they were before your pregnancy.
If your baby journey isn’t over just yet, you can even continue breastfeeding the next time around, thanks to implants placed under your pectoral muscles and away from any milk ducts or glands. But many plastic surgeons recommend that you wait until you’re done having babies to get a breast enhancement — that way you can enjoy your results for longer.
Whether we choose to enhance our post-baby bodies with surgery or decide to simply love the new skin we’re in, it’s time we start being honest about the changes our bodies — and not just our bellies — go through when we enter motherhood. Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to our bodies. Having an idea of what’s in store for you from the get-go can help ease any worries along the way and make sure your baby experience is as beautiful and empowering a journey as it should be.