So here's a fun nursing tidbit you may not have considered: stretch marks. Yes. I am here to inform you that breastfeeding can sometimes result in stretch marks. But don't panic.
When you're pregnant, it kind of seems like every single thing you do will result in stretch marks somewhere on your person. Bend over too quickly — stretch marks on your knees. Tie your shoes too quickly — stretch marks on your thumbs. Whistle too loudly — stretch marks on your lungs. There's just so much streeeeetching going on.
And sigh, so it goes with breastfeeding. Sometimes it can leave you looking like Jackson Pollock fell asleep holding a tattoo gun over your bosom.
Betty Greenman is a board certified lactaction consultant, and she wants to firstly remind everyone that stretch marks are common and in no way harmful. They're simply a byproduct of our rapidly growing bodies. "Breast tissues expand quickly as the breast produces breast milk. This increases the breast in size, therefore, it causes the skin to stretch, producing stretch marks. Unfortunately, skin discoloration often accompanies stretch marks," she tells Romper.
Greenman says that, over time, most stretch marks will fade from darker colors to lighter colors. If you want to try and fade them faster, Greenman suggests massaging the breasts with oils, such as olive, butter, almond, and Vitamin E. "These things will help promote blood flow and circulation."
Another strategy? Slather on some of your own breast milk. "Breast milk has incredible healing powers and has been proven to help fade stretch marks on your breast." (Bizarre, but true. Check out this mom who put breast milk on one side of her belly for two weeks. Pretty impressive.)
But what about preventing the stretch marks in the first place? Is there some sort of potion out there to help ward off those red squiggles?
Jada Shapiro is a doula and the founder of boober, a platform that helps parents find lactation consultants and doulas. And she says most experts think stretch marks have more to do with genetics than with whether or not you applied enough Tummy Butter. "Lots of people try using creams when their bodies are growing to keep the skin supple. But many parents out there never used cream and never got a stretch mark, whereas others rubbed cream all over themselves and still had marks aplenty!"
If your stretch marks really bother you, there are loads of rich emollient creams and shea butters out there on the market, and of course, more clinical treatments offered by dermatologists.
Shapiro, however, points out that our stretch marks — as unsightly as we may think they are — are actually kind of cool, depending on how we look at them. "Many people grow to appreciate their marks as a symbol of the amazing things their bodies have done, like grow and feed a baby. This may take some time and even talk therapy to get there, but it might be worth going the 'embrace-it' route!"
Betty Greenman, IBCLC
Jada Shapiro, doula, lactation counselor, and founder of boober