life of
dr. mom

Breast Changes Postpartum

There is a common misconception that women who breastfeed their babies will have adverse changes to the appearance of their breasts once they wean breastfeeding.  It can actually be a common reason why women choose not to breastfeed their infants.  

Surprisingly, it isn’t the act of breastfeeding at all that changes the appearance of your breasts.  It is actually the changes in breasts associated with pregnancy as one of the biggest risk factors for breast changes postpartum.  

Breast Ptosis: What Is It?

Breast ptosis means the sagging or drooping of the breasts.  

Pregnancy is associated with ptosis of the breasts.  Ptosis also worsens with increased number of pregnancies.  However, breastfeeding is not associated with a higher degree of ptosis.  

Breast ptosis after pregnancy is thought to be caused by a couple reasons.  These include: 

  • Hormone regression to pre-pregnancy state
  • Skin stretching from engorgement during pregnancy
  • Cooper’s ligaments (connective tissue in the breasts) experience strain from increased weight and strain from engorgement during pregnancy

Other Risk Factors For Breast Ptosis

Along with pregnancy and hormones, there are other reasons why some women may be more susceptible to sagging breasts.  

Cigarette smoking is a risk factor.  This is because smoking is associated with a loss of skin elasticity and tone.  

Age is also another reason women’s breasts will sag as we get older.  As we age, our skin loses elasticity, and gravity works against us.  

Heavier breasts pre-pregnancy are also at higher risk for sagging postpartum.  Weight fluctuations not associated with pregnancy are well correlated to breast ptosis, with greater than 50 pounds of weight loss causing increased drooping. 

Breastfeeding Does Not Affect Your Breasts Appearance

I thought my breasts changed after breastfeeding. However, based on the evidence, the breast changes I have noticed are due to pregnancy and not breastfeeding.

This post was co-authored by Erin Manchuk, BScPharm, BCGP and Stephanie Liu, MD, MSc, CCFP, BHSc.

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