Real Talk: Your Breasts After Breastfeeding
In this third part of our four-part series on pregnancy and nursing, we’re diving into the breast changes that remain once the sun has set on the stages of pregnancy and nursing.
When all the maternity clothes have been handed down, and the nursing pillow and breast pump have been donated to a good cause, and your little one’s diet is chock full of solid foods, you’ll know it’s official: You’ve finished breastfeeding. They say parenthood is a process of letting go, and weaning can be one big helping of the sentimental heartache that comes with watching your little one grow up.
On the one hand, your baby’s weaning means more freedom for you (like having another glass of wine without having to do the mental math about how many hours until the next feeding) and yet, once the nursing days are gone, it’s all too easy to long for those quiet cuddles. Somehow, chopping food into toddler-sized pieces just doesn’t have the same je ne sais quoi as a snuggly nursing session. Some women experience sadness or depression during and after weaning, although it typically only lasts a few weeks. (Please do talk to your doctor if you’re feeling upset in a way that concerns you.)
Through all of these changes, you’ll also be getting acquainted with your post-nursing body, a process of letting go in and of itself. Unless you’re Heidi Klum, you probably won’t look exactly like you did pre-baby—although many women return to a very similar version of themselves. Your breasts after weaning in particular, may bear some of the biggest changes in size and shape:
Ask any physicist and they’ll tell you that what goes up must come down. The laws of the universe apply to bra sizes, too. Breasts are composed mostly of fatty tissue, and while nursing, your breasts get larger because your body creates denser tissue to make milk. Once you’ve weaned your baby, those cells disappear, gradually drying up breast milk, and your breasts will get smaller again. It’s hard to say whether your breasts will be larger or smaller than they were pre-pregnancy, but either way, it’s safe to say they’ll be somewhat different. Your rib cage (and hence your bra band) may also be a different size since your torso expands while you’re pregnant. Getting a bra that fits your new cup and band size can increase your comfort and confidence, and help you welcome your new figure with open arms.
Post-baby, your breasts may feel softer and less perky than they once were. Some may refer to this stage as “sagging breasts” but we prefer to think of it as “relaxed.” Heck, after all that work, they deserve to relax a bit. But counter to what you may have heard, it’s pregnancy, not breastfeeding, that contributes to your breasts losing some of their original firmness. Again, a new bra, especially one with cups made to fit the tops of your breasts properly, like our 24/7 Classic Contour Plunge Bra or the 24/7 Lace Contour Plunge Bra can give you the support and coverage you need. You can get some help with finding your updated bra size here.
Whatever your size, shape, or stretch mark status post-nursing, your body will forever be changed by having carried and fed a baby. Getting comfortable with your new figure may require some letting go of the past, but there’s one thing you can always hold onto: You’re a mother, and that’s nothing short of remarkable.
Additional reporting by Cathy Bishop.