How Your Boobs Change Postpartum So You Can Prepare Yourself
It's no secret that pregnancy and childbirth change a mother's body. Thanks to haywire hormones, there are a number of changes going on at once — some visible and some not. One of the most noticeable body metamorphoses (besides your belly) are your breasts. If you're nearing your due date, or already delivered, you may be wondering how your boobs will change postpartum as well.
My boobs were the size of watermelons during pregnancy and postpartum. And, to be honest, they were downright terrifying. My sister, who hadn't had kids yet, watched as I hoisted them into my breast pump with a look of horror in her eyes and shouted, "Those things are humongous!" She was right — it felt and looked like they weighed 10 pounds each. My youngest is 5 years old now and, thankfully, my boobs don't look like that anymore. But it was still a serious shock to me just how large they grew and how long they stayed that size.
That being said, not every woman will have an experience like mine. Because, as you know, every woman's body is different. It's also important to remember that most of these changes are temporary, but some are more permanent too, and that's OK. To help prepare yourself for the changes ahead, here are nine boob changes to look out for, even if they are completely normal.
1. They Fill Up With Milk
Generally speaking, C-section moms will experience a delay in milk coming in because of the pain and medications associated with this abdominal surgery, according to Very Well. Additionally, any past breast surgeries will also impact how fast your milk comes in and how efficiently your breasts produce it, according to La Leche League International (LLLI). If you've had any past breast surgeries including breast reduction, biopsy, or augmentation and you are concerned about milk production, ask your doctor how these surgeries may impact your breasts in the postpartum phase.
2. They Might Become Engorged
Whether you're breastfeeding or not, breast engorgement occurs when your breasts become overfilled with milk (and painfully so), according to Web MD. There are several different factors that determine whether or not you get engorged, some of which have to do with the birthing process. "Many moms become very engorged if they have medications in their birth - even an epidural, as they are required to have IV fluids. This fluid can collect in the breast tissue," Leigh Anne O'Connor, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBLCL), tells Romper." She suggests getting a good pump if you're a breastfeeding mom experiencing engorgement.
If you're not breastfeeding, you can apply ice packs and wear firm, supportive bras until your milk goes away, as suggested on Web MD. You can also ask your doctor about over the counter medicines if the pain is too much for you.
3. The Areolas Will Appear Darker
Those pregnancy hormones are the reason your areolas are darker postpartum, according to Parents, and it's nothing to worry about. The hormones stimulate pigment-producing cells that cause your areolas to be more prominent. As explained in the article, your nipple color should return to it's pre-pregnancy color after a few months.
4. The Nipple "Pimples" Get Bigger
The dots around your nipples — known as Montgomery's glands — become more pronounced when you are postpartum. "They secrete a lubricating and fragrant substance to draw the baby to the breast," O'Connor explains. "They also clean and moisturize the breast."
5. The Veins Become More Visible
Having prominent veins on your breasts is nothing to be alarmed about. According to Very Well, extra visible veins on your breasts are normal, especially if you're breastfeeding. That being said, protruding veins are a cause for concern and could indicate a breast tumor. If you're concerned, it may be best to schedule an exam with your provider.
6. The Nipples May Be Very Sensitive
Sore nipples typically plague postpartum women right after delivery but it may extend for weeks (or even months). As noted on What To Expect, prolonged nipple soreness is the result of improper position or latching issues. If your nipples also bleed or crack, you may want to see a lactation consultant or doctor.
7. They May Develop Stretch Marks
"The stretch marks are tears in the dermis, or the strength layer of the skin," Dr. Gregory Buford, a board certified plastic surgeon, tells Romper. Your breasts are bound to have stripes because they've expanded during pregnancy and now in postpartum with milk.
Additionally, skin stretching can also cause the shape of the breast to change. As Buford explains, "the skin itself may be stretched out and with a more oval (than round) shape with a down-pointing nipple." Basically, if your boobs stretch a bit, even to the point where your nipples point south, it's nothing to worry about.
8. They May Take A Concave Shape
If your breasts start to look like they have menisci, there's no need to fret - it's totally normal for some women.
"As a result of expansion of the breast tissue as well as hormone changes, we generally see volume loss to the upper pole of the breast," Buford says. "This change, referred to as Involutional Change, often gives a classic concavity to the upper pole or top of the breasts."
9. They May Droop
"We see an overall drooping of the breast caused by stretching of internal ligaments," Buford explains. "These microscopic ligaments are critical in helping to maintain the overall structure of the breasts. The more these become stretched, the more ptotic or droopy the breasts themselves become."
It may be impossible to predict all the ways your body and your breasts will change once in the postpartum phase. Rest assured, these changes are normal and simply the result of growing and birthing a human. Some changes may be temporary, others not so much. It's important to try to take these changes in stride as much as you can, and remain as body positive as possible.