Charlie - posted on 06/09/2010 ( 95 moms have responded )
many new mothers choose not to for fear of sagging breasts. However, breastfeeding alone has no impact on a woman’s breast shape, according to a first-of-its-kind study presented today at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) Plastic Surgery 2007 conference in Baltimore.
“Many women who come in for breast surgery tell us their breasts are sagging, drooping or are less full because they breastfed,” said Brian Rinker, MD, ASPS Member Surgeon and study author. “Although the amount of sagging in the breasts appears to increase with each pregnancy, we’ve found that breastfeeding does not worsen the effect.”
The study examined 93 women who were pregnant one or more times prior to having cosmetic breast surgery. Fifty-eight percent of patients reported breastfeeding one or more of their children. The duration of breastfeeding ranged from 2 to 25 months, with an average of nine months. Fifty-five percent of respondents reported an adverse change in the shape of their breasts following pregnancy.
As the first study to examine what impacts breast shape in connection to pregnancy, plastic surgeons found that a history of breastfeeding, the number of children breastfed, the duration of each child’s breastfeeding, or the amount of weight gained during pregnancy were not significant predictors for losing breast shape. However, body mass index (BMI), the number of pregnancies, a larger pre-pregnancy bra size, smoking history, and age were significant risk factors for an increased degree of breast sagging.
Nearly 104,000 women had breast lifts in 2006, up 96 percent since 2000, according to the ASPS. In addition, more than 329,000 women had breast augmentation, making it the top surgical cosmetic procedure in 2006.
“Women may be reluctant to breastfeed because of this unfounded myth that doing so means the end of youthful breasts,” said Dr. Rinker. “Now, expectant mothers can relax knowing breastfeeding does not change the appearance of their breasts.”
Breast milk provides indisputable health benefits to infants. Research has shown breastfed infants have improved general health, growth and development as well as a lower risk of many acute and chronic illnesses than artificially fed infants.
Sagging or dropping of the breasts is a natural, inevitable process that happens to most all women at some point. The most notable sagging happens through normal life experiences.
Breasts can start drooping at any age, because they do not have muscles in them. They have ligaments and connective tissue. When the gravity pulls the breasts down, those ligaments and the skin can stretch, and so the breast droops. This depends on the elasticity of the skin and of the ligaments, as determined by your genes and diet and also, the normal aging process.
Some common reasons for sagging is when a woman loses weight and through breast involution.
When you lose weight, some of that fat disappears from your breasts. Typically the skin and the ligaments inside the breasts don't retract accordingly, resulting in an empty looking breast that then may sag.
things you can do to prevent sagging:
Tone up your pectoral muscles! I don’t know why women get so upset over hearing this. Your breasts are not going to turn into man-pecs just because you do some pushups. It doesn’t work like that, for God’s sake. Those chicks you see on ESPN with man-pecs are not an example of what happens just from toning, so don’t worry about that. Also, if you hate pushups like I do, you can do them against a wall. Stand a foot or so away from the wall with your feet shoulder width or so, and push your bodyweight. It's really not hard and you will feel it, trust me. It works, and doesn’t make your knees ache. You can also do Fly reps and Chest Presses with dumbbells. No, it's not hard and it doesn’t take long.
Use good posture. Standing up properly, with your shoulders back and chest somewhat-out, won’t necessarily make them sag less, but it will make them LOOK like they do. Hell, anyone can look like they have saggy breasts if their shoulders are slumped forward and their whole body is pointing downward!
Keep your breasts smooth and silky. Exfoliate, use lotion. Keep the skin healthy! It helps to use adequate sunscreen, as well!
End Note: Going bra-free at home is beneficial for a nursing mother's lymphatic system (which clears her body of waste) and also for her mammary glands and milk ducts. Allowing the breasts to 'breathe' without a bra also decreases risk for bacteria infection and thrush by allowing the nipple and areola to stay dry and cool (but not chapped). As is true with breastfeeding, going bra-free does not contribute to the sagging of breasts. For more on the health benefits of going without a bra as much as you are able to do so, see the excellent book Dressed to Kill.