As they say, a baby changes everything, but the brevity of this statement doesn’t usually sink in until after baby arrives. This change affects everything in your life, including your everyday schedule and outside activities, relationships, career, lifestyle, and also your body.
You might have a few scars, some stretch marks, a few pounds to lose, and then there are your boobs. These babies, no pun intended, can react in unexpected ways, but you don’t need to worry about these unexpected changes.
Expecting the Unexpected: Your Breasts After Baby
Your breasts are made to go through a lot of changes when you are pregnant. Once you have given birth, they begin to fill up with a clear liquid called colostrum. This liquid has loads of minerals as well as protein for your little one.
Colostrum even has more nutrients than the usual breast milk. When your baby drinks it, they will also ingest antibodies. It is crucial that baby gets these nutrients for the first few days. After those days have passed, your regular mature breast milk completely replaces the colostrum. Here are some other changes you may not be aware of:
1. Your breasts are somehow smaller than when you started.
After pregnancy, if you decided to partake in breastfeeding, your tissues in this area may become denser. Additionally, the fat and tissue can shift within your breasts. Once you stop breastfeeding, they shrink back and the shift in tissues make the shape different. Your breast may appear smaller as a result of this movement.
2. You now have breasts you want to show off like crazy.
Just as your boobs can suddenly get lost in your bra post-pregnancy, you might end up with a suddenly larger set to show off. Either way, you have no way of predicting what your breasts will do during and after your give birth. Especially while breastfeeding, the breasts fill up with milk and appear larger.
3. Breast size change is not the only change to expect.
The size of your nipples are also susceptible to variations when you are nursing your little one. They can stand out more; they can be droopy, too. Your hormones are to blame for these changes. Unlike fat and tissue shifting in your breasts which may be permanent, nipples change is more often than not temporary.
4. Don’t touch the nipples.
During breastfeeding, your baby may not immediately latch onto your nipples in the right way. Because baby is finding and learning, you may find your nipples needing recovery time from being sore and sensitive.
Post nursing, it is important to let your nipples completely dry before covering them back up. Air drying your nipples can reduce this sensitivity. An additional helpful tip to reducing your nursing pain is to relax.
Before you begin nursing, take a few moments to calm yourself and relax your body so you not so tense when you begin. Then it is important to continue this calming mood all through the nursing session. A tense body is more prone to injury. Relax to reduce stress and to reduce your chance for irritation of your skin and nipples.
5. Protective nipple wear is a must.
Your baby may not be the one causing the sensitivity to your nipples. Or the sensitivity you are experiencing may not manifest itself during nursing, but rather it occurs when you are dressed. You may find your nipples gently rubbing against the inside of your bra, which causes discomfort.
Solve these painful incidents by inserting breast shells into your bra. These shells can prevent chafing of your nipple against fabric.
6. It hurts all around the nipples.
Nursing your baby doesn’t need to be uncomfortable or unpleasant. A helpful tip can be to ensure your baby is latching on just slightly differently each time he or she is getting milk from you. Feel and determine where your baby is applying the most pressure during latching. If you can adjust this pressure slightly, your breast will be less likely to experience soreness.
To help adjust this latching pressure, you can gently apply pressure in a downward fashion to the baby’s chin. By applying this pressure, your baby will respond by opening up his or her mouth a little bit wider. This slightly wider latch should reduce your level of discomfort.
Pain in your nipples may go away as well if you attempt to change the latching of your baby. If you are experiencing pain and the pain lasts only a minute, maybe a little bit longer, then that pain can be considered normal. But any longer period of time is not normal. Attempt to change how your baby is latched onto you and this might help.
7. There could be bleeding issues.
If your nipples begin to bleed, don’t panic. You may find that your nipples are sore to the touch or simply sore without any touch. You can apply lanolin cream to them which can help soothe this sensitivity. But if you do find your nipples are bleeding along with this sensitivity, it would be prudent to make a visit to your healthcare provider.
Additionally, be aware that any cracking or bleeding of your nipples should be seen by your doctor. If your pain also seems to continue longer than normal, visit your doctor as well.
Another source for pain in your nipples could be how you are cleaning them in the shower or bath. Don’t use any soap on them. Using soap will only make your nipples extra dry. Dry nipples will be even more sensitive.
8. Breast engorgement is the norm.
An additional note about when your breasts get bigger after giving birth concerns another bodily change. When your breasts get bigger, the medical term for this enlargement is breast engorgement. During breast engorgement, you may find your breasts are red in color, hard to the touch, or painful.
As they get bigger, you might even experience a bit of a fever. There are some steps to take to help you feel better during these unexpected changes.
- Maternity Bra: Invest in a good quality maternity bra to wear during this time. Choose one that allows for easy nursing and provides you ample support when not nursing.
- Flowing Milk: If your milk is flowing, make sure to take showers that are warm and not hot in temperature.
- Massage: In the shower, this is a good time to give yourself a massage. Massage your breasts which will increase the circulation. Once this circulation is improved, you milk ducts will also open.
- Warm Compresses: Prior to breastfeeding, using a warm compress on your breasts. After you breastfeed, use a warm compress to help you completely empty the milk supply in your breasts.
- Cold Compresses: When you are in between nursing feedings with your baby, using a cold compress on each of your breasts will help slow down your milk supply. These cold compresses can help soothe your breast region.
9. Your nipples are darker.
Your nipples might not be sensitive, but they might change color. Your areolae and your nipples might be darker in color than prior to being pregnant. This condition is completely normal. And many women find this change in color completely reverses itself after you give birth.
10. You have way too much milk.
As a mother, you could probably benefit from be duplicated during your breastfeeding period. Your breasts produce almost too much milk. Your baby does not need all of the milk that your breasts make.
Make sure that your baby is well-latched onto your nipples. You can achieve this through making certain that your baby has the nipple and most of the areola in his or her mouth. With this proper latch, you will be less likely to have a breast that is too full of milk.
You will likely feel when your breasts are too full of milk. But another symptom of this fullness impacts your nipples. Full breasts will cause your nipples to flatten out. You can resolve this flattening out by applying a warm compress to your breasts and then push out just a little bit of milk.
11. Your breasts change and do a few other crazy things.
- Milk Might Start Flowing: Be prepared for milk to start flowing, even if you are not expecting it. It can happen during sex, too. If you let out some of your milk right before, you may find that you can reduce this unexpected flow from happening.
- Some Protection: When you are breastfeeding, understand that it is only partial protection against getting pregnant again. The operative word here, being partial. You might ovulate before you have your first period after giving birth.
- Periods are Gone: It could be months after you have given birth that you finally get your period back. The delay may be longer if you are breastfeeding.
- Not Just Sore Breasts and Nipples: The desire to have sex is likely something you might have after giving birth, but don’t be surprised if you don’t just have sore breasts and sore nipples. You also might have no desire to have sex, which is normal, too. Vaginal dryness might occur, as well. Try a lubricating gel to alleviate sensitivity down there.
This advice might be too late.
A lot of the soreness associated with being pregnancy results from poor support of your breasts. Since they change in size so frequently during pregnancy, it is important to support them throughout your pregnancy, not just at the end.
Buy a number of bra sizes while you are pregnant to accommodate your changes. Any woman who has a larger chest can attest to the back pain associated with them. Being pregnant no doubt also contributes to this back pain. But wearing the right bra can help alleviate at least some of this off-balance feeling and help support you.
Another option is wearing a super light bra at night to provide you with another layer of support when you are asleep and are tossing and turning. When you wake up, you might find less soreness in your breasts.
Also, get fitted for your bra to ensure proper size and support. Also, wait for this official fitting, until a few months after giving birth since your breasts are likely not done adjusting.
Breasts change, but they don’t have to change that much.
When you are pregnant, it is always a good rule of thumb to not gain that much weight. The excuse is often that women are eating for two, so they think they need to gorge themselves. Your baby will grow to a strong and healthy boy or girl with your regular intake of food.
You will obviously gain more than if you were not growing a little one inside you; but nonetheless, a moderate weight gain is advised. Because your breasts will swell more when there is more fatty tissue in them. The less fluctuations there are in this fatty tissue, the less grand changes you will experience in your breast size.
12. Dry skin around the breasts can happen, too.
You also might find your skin in general to have changed after giving birth. One area most likely to be affected is the tender skin around your breasts.
There are many moisturizing products available to use. All of these help the elasticity in your skin. They also help the production of collagen. And they assist with aiding the resilience of your breast skin. It is also always a good idea to apply these moisturizing agents after a bath or shower when your skin is most supple and is more likely to absorb what you are rubbing in.
- Cocoa Butter
- Shea Butter
- Almond Oil
13. Stretch marks can develop.
The biggest thing you can do to help minimize the appearance of stretch marks post pregnancy is through the application of moisture. Using a variety of creams and oils will keep your breast skin supple, which will minimize the appearance of the marks.
14. Sagging breasts are avoidable.
We have talked about breasts that get perky and breasts that shrink to baby oil funnels. But what about those breasts that just simply droop? Some women experience the droop post-pregnancy, but you do have some options to avoid that, such as:
- Exercise: Your chest muscles if they are strong do indeed help to create breasts that lift up more, so doing some push-ups will help. Don’t expect a miracle; but do expect some lift, especially if you start before becoming pregnant.
- Posture: Having excellent posture is always a good thing, and having a strong back is, too. Before getting pregnant and after giving birth, building your core muscles up and improving your posture will make you stand taller.
- Cold Water: It sounds silly but go and splash your boobs with some cold water for a quite literal pick-me-up, or a pick-them-up rather. After you have taken a hot shower, your breast skin will be supple and primed. Toss on some cold water, and you will find your breasts contracting and lifting. It does not last forever; but it works.
Love the unexpected – love your body.
Your body and your breasts do indeed change after you give birth, but you might find these unexpected changes your body undergoes are certainly unexpected, but not necessarily unwanted.
You have the knowledge that you brought another human being into the world; and a breast-size change might be relatively minor in the grand scheme of things. Maybe you had large boobs before you started, you hated them, and now after giving birth, they shrank, and they are the perfect size.
Or, maybe you had tiny lemons on your chest. Now, you can wear low cut shirts and own them. And possibly, your breasts are now not the prettiest sights to see; but you have a little one to call your own. And you have an experience of a lifetime too.
What to Expect From Your Breasts After You’re Done Expecting
Your breasts will probably get big, and then drop back down to even smaller than they were before. These changes can be attributed to your hormones. Your hormones encourage the milk glands and ducts in your breasts to grow in order to prepare them for the breastfeeding process. These hormones include: progesterone, estrogen and oxytocin, as well as others.
This makes sense, since your breasts grow as part of the normal pregnancy process. Your body has to accommodate this growth. Your skin stretches right along with your growing breasts. This growing process occurs whether you decide to breastfeed or not. After the nursing ends, your glands and ducts theoretically return to the size they were prior to your pregnancy.
Making the Decision to Breastfeed – or Not
Choosing to breastfeed is a personal choice. To some, the belief that breastfeeding can bring you closer to your baby as they are growing and getting stronger is an impetus. To others, bottle feeding is just as good, because it works for their particular situation.
- The Pros of Breastfeeding
Breast milk is considered by those who nurse to be the best source of nutrients for your little one. Inside breast milk, you will find protein, fat, carbohydrates, sugar, minerals as well as other important vitamins. Breast milk can also help your baby fight off infections. Your baby is building its immune system as it is growing and a proper development of this system helps to ensure diseases can be fought off.
- The Pros of Bottle Feeding
These mothers feel all of the nutrients your baby needs are right there in the formula they put in their baby’s bottle. They also resent the implication that they aren’t close enough to their babies because they don’t breastfeed. Some babies don’t manage well with breastfeeding due to health issues like allergies, for example. In such cases, bottle feeding is a way to nourish them.
A baby changes everything
After your baby arrives, expect a lot of stuff in your life to change. You now have another human being to take care of, one who depends solely on you. But that does not mean that you need to neglect yourself and your beauty regimen.
It is important to understand the changes that can and do take place after you are pregnant. From skin changes, to breast size fluctuations, nipple soreness, over-production of milk, to cracked and bleeding skin, your body changes in many ways in response the changes happening to it.
Some of the changes revert back. Your breasts go back to their original size, your nipples go from dark back to light and your sensitive skin becomes full of moisture and returns with its supple nature.
Breastfeeding is Best for You Both
You might say to yourself that these unexpected things that happen to my breasts and surrounding areas after my baby arrives mainly have to do with breastfeeding. You might believe that by not breastfeeding, you won’t need to expect the unexpected. This is only partially true.
Breastfeeding does have its own set of specific conditions that impact a woman’s body. But most of these are after she starts doing it. Remember that you are primed to breastfeed after your give birth whether you are going to do it or not. Your body is ready to produce the necessary nutrients for your baby if you so desire to provide them to your baby via your breast.
Your Breasts Will Change as You Age, Too
Since your breasts are priming themselves for milk production after you give birth, they need to find room for this milk. It is completely normal for your boobs to grow and for your skin to stretch to accommodate this growth, with or without you deciding to breastfeed.
But since your glands and ducts in your breasts do increase and stretch, and do so just according to your own milk production system, they don’t exactly have a guide for returning to exactly the right size they were previously. Expect some differences.
Pregnancy is Not the Only Thing That Changes Your Body
After all of this discussion about the great impact that pregnancy has on your breasts, it is important to consider the natural changes your breasts go through since they first made their appearance. They adapt to your body as you have grown even before becoming pregnant. Embrace your boobs.
You just won’t know what changes are in store for them until after pregnancy. Live a healthy lifestyle to encourage healthy breasts. Eat nutritious foods, exercise, get plenty of sleep and be proud of being a new mom. Enjoy your baby and your life.