what happens to breasts after breastfeeding

(July 22, 2010)

Breasts After Breastfeeding

Breast milk is the ideal food for a newborn baby. However there are some problems that mothers often face while breastfeeding. Unevenness or changes in the shape of the breasts are some of the common breastfeeding problems.

There are changes in the levels of estrogen and progesterone during menstruation and pregnancy. These hormonal fluctuations also occur during breastfeeding and menopause. As a result the breast tissue also undergoes changes due to varying levels of these two hormones. Changes in the breasts are likely to occur throughout the life of a woman, but these changes are more significant during pregnancy and breastfeeding. The size of the breasts depends upon the amount of fatty tissue present in these areas. During lactation the breast tissues become denser. After a woman breastfeeds, the fatty tissue may shift, along with the connective tissue. It is possible that the breasts may not regain their original shape. Some women’s breasts may remain larger, while other women may find that their breasts shrink in size post lactation. The fullness or sagging of the breasts may also be attributed to genetic factors. Other factors such as weight gain in pregnancy and advancing age could also influence the size and shape of the breasts.

When the breast structures involved in milk production are no longer required, they shrink to their pre-pregnancy shape and size. This process is referred to as postpartum breast involution. During nursing, the skin and tissue of the breasts stretches to some extent due to the flow of milk. This contributes to a stretched out or sagging appearance of the breasts. This is a common problem that many women face following breastfeeding. However, this is only a cosmetic problem and does not really pose any medical problem. Studies have shown that breastfeeding is not the only cause of sagging breasts. Other factors that are known to alter breast appearance include age, history of smoking, body mass index or BMI, number of pregnancies, and larger pre-pregnancy breast size. Another point to keep in mind is that after breastfeeding each breast remains independent and changes that occur in one breast may not necessarily occur in the other. A common problem while breastfeeding is engorgement which occurs when there is a congestion of blood vessels in the breast. Once this problem is resolved, one of the breasts could become misshapen. This, again, is only a cosmetic concern. In case of other changes such as puckering and dimpling, it is advisable to consult a doctor as it could be indicative of a lump that is not close to the surface of the skin and so it may not be visible.

Submitted by P T on July 22, 2010 at 05:43

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