Pregnancy brings about a lot of changes in your body. Nothing remains the same after that. And when it comes to breasts, these changes extend beyond pregnancy and childbirth. After having been through an increase in the cup sizes, leakages, squirts, swellings, and whatnot, your breasts will soon endure the arduous task of breastfeeding. But when you would have finally weaned your baby, you’ll find that your breasts look anything but normal. However, is breastfeeding the real culprit?
Changes In The Breasts During Pregnancy
We often assume that the change in the size, appearance, and shape of a new mom’s breasts is largely due to the breastfeeding. But that is not so. In fact, your breasts start changing from the time you become pregnant. The rapid surge in hormones and the increase in blood flow will bring about a lot of changes in the breasts and nipples. The earliest symptoms would be breast tenderness, breast tissue growth, heavy or sore breasts, and very prominent blue veins under the breast skin.
During the second trimester, the area that encircles the nipples called areola tends to get darker. You might even experience some nipple discharge. Sometimes, you might also get some lumps in the breasts due to milk clogging. However, this is largely non-cancerous in nature.
Finally, during the third trimester, your breasts will continue to grow bigger, will have leaking nipples, and some stretch marks might also appear on the breast skin (1).
Changes In The Breasts After Pregnancy
Soon after giving birth, your breasts will continue to undergo changes.
Leaking: Within the first few days postpartum, your baby’s first food will be the colostrum, which is a thick, yellow fluid. Thereafter, it starts thinning and the color of the milk might also change indicating that the flow of the milk has started increasing. Due to this, some new moms might experience leaking of the breasts.
Your breasts can leak when your baby cries; when the breasts are full, or even for no reason.
Breast Engorgement: When your breasts are full of milk, they might enlarge. This is also known as breast engorgement. Your full breasts might cause heaviness and hardness of the breasts; might be warm to touch; cause lumps in the breast tissue, and might cause general discomfort (2).
The Effect Of Breastfeeding On Your Breasts
As you start nursing your baby, you’ll notice varied changes in your breasts.
Tingling Sensation: Once you experience the let-down of milk and your baby starts nursing, you’ll feel different types of sensations including a tingling feeling. However, this sensation lasts only for a few days as your breasts get accustomed to feeding.
Sore Nipples: In the beginning, your nipples might become sore due to breastfeeding as you are still adjusting to the whole process of nursing. Imperfect latching or strong sucking by the baby can also cause some serious amount of cracking and bleeding in your nipples.
Increase In Cup Size: Usually, your breasts will continue to remain enlarged for the next few months after you start nursing. By the time your baby starts on solids and feeds less on your breasts, your breasts might start feeling soft and empty after every feeding. They might even shrink a bit. However, the breasts will remain enlarged until the time you completely wean your baby off breastfeeding (3).
Will Your Breasts Return To Normal After Breastfeeding?
Yes, and No. As you know by now, the changes in your breast are not entirely due to breastfeeding alone. The engorgement caused due to the milk flow can loosen the ligaments in your breasts and may cause them to droop or sag. Even if you wish to skip breastfeeding to avoid it, these changes will still occur since they are not related to breastfeeding but rather to pregnancy (4).
How your breasts will turn out after breastfeeding largely depends on factors like age, genetics, the size of your breasts before pregnancy, pregnancy weight gain, etc. If you had any lingering doubts that breastfeeding might negatively impact the size or shape of your breasts, then we hope this informative piece has helped change your perception. So, go ahead and feed your baby the precious milk. Breast changes are bound to occur anyway!