Breastfeeding your children is one of the best gifts you can give them in their lifetime. You will be able to nourish them and provide them with the necessary nutritional elements to grow healthy and happy. However, there is a common misconception that pops up in women conversations, especially the pregnant ones which is that breastfeeding is the first reason to breast sagging. In addition, many women believe that using a breast pump will make their breasts sag.
The medical term for sagging breasts is ‘ptosis’. This condition happens naturally with age, but there are other factors that contribute to breasts sagging. Some of which are weight, genetics, smoking, and the size of your breasts. The ability to recover from your stretched breasts when breastfeeding is linked to factors such as weight, stress, and genetics; but even if there is no one cure to sagging, there are still a few habits that you can adopt to prevent breast sagging. Many of which can be done at the comfort of your home.
The following article lists 12 tips and suggestions that you can incorporate into your daily habits today. So if you are a new mother and planning on breastfeeding your baby or using a breast pump (or both), here are a few things that you can start doing to keep your breasts from sinking downward and help them keep a younger more youthful appearance after pregnancy.
- Regularly breastfeed
Leaving long stretches of time between the feeding sessions may cause engorged breasts. Consequently, your breasts can develop clogged milk duct, or bacteria under the name ‘mastitis’. If your breasts are consistently engorged with milk, they will also affect their form and appearance as their tender skin will be stretched. This stretching can result in ptosis after you stop breastfeeding, or a bigger problem that is harder to fix: stretch marks.
To avoid these complications, you can start breastfeeding your baby on demand. You can also pump your breast milk and keep in the freezer for later use. This comes in handy when your baby is not ready to nurse, or if you need to leave your house for more than 2 to 3 hours without your baby.
- Avoid daily pumping
Unless you are in a situation where pumping is the only solution or you are a mother who took on a part or full time job and has to pump to feed her kid, chances are that pumping daily is not a must for you. Many mothers manage to stick to exclusive breastfeeding and never pump. Frequent pumping raises your chances of injuring the breast tissues (especially when it is not done right). This affects the breast negatively because it stretches the skin and makes it less elastic, this for sure leads to breast sagging.
This point is a follow up on the previous one, so it is better to breastfeed on demand. This is a smoother and more natural process by which the breast can be emptied regularly and hence avoids any clogged duct. This will also ensure a good milk supply, since the more your baby nurses, the more fresh milk will be produced for the next nursing session.
- Find the right breastfeeding position
The natural position most mothers go into while breastfeeding is leaning over their child, which can have lasting negative effect on your breasts. It is crucial you look for a comfortable position while nursing, so you prevent breast sagging afterwards. The key here is avoiding angling the breast down to the baby.
The ideal change you can make here is opting for a nursing pillow or another form of support while feeding your baby. This simple change of habit will allow your breasts to be in the same level as the baby and hence prevent breast sagging after breastfeeding. It is also essential your baby is comfortably nursing, or else he/she will be really fussy and possibly pinch, bite, or twist the nipple. This is more likely to happen with older babies who are more likely to injure the breasts’ tissue while nursing uncomfortably.
- Make weaning gradual
When you realize it is the right time to introduce weaning to your baby’s diet, plan to do it gradually. Gradual weaning helps avoid problems with clogged milk ducts and mastitis, it will assist fat tissue rearrange in breasts and regain their firm pre-pregnancy feel and appearance quickly, and thus allow your breasts to involute in the right way.
Breast involution refers to the process of reverse development the breasts go through to become smaller and less ready for lactation. When weaning gradually and smoothly, the glandular tissue that produces milk in the breast will slowly be substituted by fatty tissue. This will allow the skin to tone up and prevent your breasts from sagging.
- Check your breast health regularly
Doctors recommend that women of all ages regularly check their breasts for lumps that cause concern. Although many changes occur to your breasts during pregnancy and breastfeeding, it is crucial that you take the time to feel and examine them for any developments or changes that may interfere with breastfeeding your child.
As rare is it may be it is possible that women can develop breast cancer during lactation. However, most lumps that are related to lactation are linked to mastitis and blocked milk duct. If you feel any discomfort while breastfeeding, weaning, or even afterwards; make sure you see a lactation specialist or a Mammalogist. This discomfort can be the result of an infection which may lead to severe consequences to you and you baby.
- Wear a good supportive bra daily
As you gain more weight during pregnancy and your breasts start to produce milk after, it is only fitting that you provide your breasts with the support they need using a comfortable supportive bra. It is crucial that your bra fits you perfectly if you’re expecting or breastfeeding. Refrain from using bras with small cups as they can put extra pressure on your breasts, and cause clogged duct or bigger problems.
You may need to consult a fitting expert for the right bra size, as your bra should hold your breasts firmly in an upright position. A good quality supportive bra will help hold your breasts and prevent sagging. You can even try wearing sports bras, since they provide the right support and they are very comfortable. They also have a bonus of having easy access to your breasts in case you need to breastfeed.
- Exercise regularly
It may be a challenge to get back into your workout schedule after delivering your baby. After all, there are dozens of new things to give your time to. However, exercising will raise your energy levels, help your physical and mental wellbeing, and strengthen and tone your muscles. This will reduce the body fat you carry and prevent your breasts from becoming too saggy when breastfeeding.
Ask your doctor before initiating any exercise plan, and don’t work out excessively to avoid any rapid weight loss or weight gain. Weight fluctuations can mess with your skin’s elasticity, and can develop stretch marks on your skin. After having decided on an exercise plan, use a good support bra or a support band to help keep your breasts in place while running, jogging, or doing yoga. We also advise you focus on gradual weight loss, and you aim for exercises such as chest presses and push-ups that will engage your breast muscles and help tone them up.
- Drink water frequently
Staying hydrated is probably the most given advice by people nowadays. However, it is an essential habit to not underestimate here as your entire body needs to be well hydrated to prevent breast sagging. If you notice that your intake of water is not what you aspire for it to be, start working on it.
Water will help nourish your organs and tissues, and it will help clear your blood by helping it get rid of toxins. Staying well hydrated while expecting and through breastfeeding will also help your skin look livelier and well nourished. It will also help slow premature wrinkles which are closely linked to constant dehydration.
- Massage and moisturize your breasts regularly
With increasing your water intake, moisturizing your breasts regularly will help tone up your breasts and prevent their sagging. Massaging will help your skin be more resilient, it will help your breasts become firm, and it will prevent stretch marks.
One of the main causes of stretch marks during pregnancy and breastfeeding is genetics. Even though there are no remedies to rid of the stretch marks completely, massaging your skin with the right product will help soothe them. Learn the right technique to massage your breasts, and incorporate a massage routine into your daily habits. Apply vitamin E oil, cocoa butter, or coconut oil to your breasts at least twice a day (morning and night). You can also use an efficient stretch marks cream for this purpose as long as your skin is well moisturized at all times.
- Take contrast showers
A contrast shower is one where you start by turning the temperature of the shower water as hot as you can handle for 3 full minutes and then change it to as cold as you can take for 1 minute. Hot water improves blood circulation while cold water helps tone and tightens your skin.
The contrast between the two temperatures and backing it up with constant massaging of your breasts will make your muscles flexible and promote healthy blood circulation. Finish with cold water to help your breast’s skin stay firm. Moisturize and nourish your skin after your shower.
- Maintain a balanced diet
Now more than ever, you need to evaluate the kind of foods you are providing your body with, because a balanced diet will help your body and mind keep fit and healthy. Maintaining a diet that is rich in protein, healthy fats, and complex carbs will help supply your body with the necessary nutrients to maintain a healthy skin.
For a better diet, focus on nourishing your body with lean proteins, healthy fats, veggies, and loads of water. Limit the consumption of gluten, sweet fruits, and refrain from unnecessary items such as sugar, sodas, prepackaged foods, and refined grains. If you’re breastfeeding, we recommend you consume more butter and egg yolk which are rich in arachidonic acid. This essential fatty acid facilitates junctions between skin cells and helps keep your breasts firm.
- Try taking supplements
If you follow one of our previous tips and you are keeping a reasonably-well balanced diet, then you should not be in need of any vitamin supplements while breastfeeding. However, most mineral supplements taken by the mother do not affect levels of breast milk. The following suggested supplements can help you keep a resilient healthy skin.
- Vitamin D: crucial to strengthening your metabolism, repairing cells, and enforcing skin immunity
- Collagen Type 1 + 3: Helps skin shrink after delivery, and assists in skin elasticity
- Omega 3: Balances skin moisture, helps collagen production, and makes your skin look fresh and healthy
- Vitamin E: Helps cell turnover and has antioxidant benefits
- Vitamin C: Supports cell strength and increases collagen production
Make sure you consult your health practitioner before using any supplements. When he/she gives you the green light, take the supplements separately to make sure they are well absorbed. For the collagen supplement, it is most effective when taken with cold water on an empty stomach first thing in the morning.
So what do you think? We are interested in learning how is/ was it for you!
Share your experience with us and help other moms know what to expect. Have your breast felt saggy after breastfeeding? Have you ever tried any of these tips? And if yes, which one(s)? And what changes did they make on your breasts’ skin?
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