Your breasts will go through a number of changes when you are pregnant, nursing, and weaning, and many women worry about what their breasts will look like when they are breastfeeding and when they are finished breastfeeding.
If you are worried about your breasts reducing in size during or after breastfeeding then there is both good news and bad news.
During breastfeeding, they will be bigger than usual
The good news is that when you’re breastfeeding you will generally enjoy much larger and fuller breasts than you ever have before. This swelling and engorgement is normal as your body prepares milk for your baby and stores it for you. Immediately after breastfeeding you will likely find that your breasts appear and feel smaller (but still larger than pre-baby), but this is only temporary as long as you keep breastfeeding. There’s a lot of expanding and contracting happening here at your baby nurses throughout the day.
Also, keep in mind that the size of your breast has very little to do with how much milk you make for your baby. Since baby’s tummies are so small, the amount of milk they need to feel satisfied is quite small compared to the size of your breast. In general, you make as much milk as your baby needs to eat to feel happy and full.
Once you stop breastfeeding though, they will return to their previous size, or to a size that is even smaller than before
Once you stop breastfeeding, however, things can change. When you wean your baby, then you will not make as much milk as you did before and it is normal for your breasts to feel and to look less full. This process can take a long time and may take around six or more months for your breasts to return to the way they did before you were pregnant.
Even then, however, they may be smaller, saggy, or softer than they were in the past. What you may experience is not so much having “smaller” breasts than before as it is experiencing breasts that are deflated.
The breast may actually have the same amount of tissue as it did before, but that tissue is spread out in different places.
Further, the skin of your breast may not be as strong as it once was (due to stretching during pregnancy). The skin may not support your breasts in the shape they used to be in because it is simply too weak to do so.
This may be a disappointment to you, or something to be joyous about, depending upon how you felt about your breasts before you got pregnant.
My personal experience
I can report from the trenches myself about post-pregnancy breast size. I was fairly stacked before having my babies, and while I was pregnant and nursing, my chest grew to mammoth proportions.
Then, when I finally got through nursing my third baby, I finally lost most of the baby weight and got into some of my old clothes. But I did notice that my breasts were dramatically smaller than they were pre-pregnancy.
And yes, all the rest of the changes–loose skin, less firm, definitely closer to the ground than they were previously. I can’t actually say that I am sorry about the changes though, because I always thought having large breasts was a nuisance, before.
I don’t mind they size they are now, but I just wish they were a little more firm than they are. And I don’t care for the loose skin that much either, I suppose. But all in all, not TERRIBLE. Just not the SAME.
I reviewed some websites in researching this post, and I saw some statements that while the breast might “deflate” after nursing stops (and all the milk producing tissue shrinks up), that fatty tissue will return to the breast to replace the milk producing tissue. Perhaps this happened to me…but honestly I couldn’t tell all that well when exactly the milk producing tissue “dried up” and when the fatty tissue rushed in to take its place, if it did, in fact, replace it at all.
Other changes you might experience post-breastfeeding
Post-nursing, you may feel lumps or other bumpiness in your breasts for weeks or even months.
The large veins you see in your breasts during nursing should fade (thank goodness).
While your breasts may never be the same, your nipples should return to their previous size and shape. However, many women report that the color of the nipples is slightly different (lighter in many cases). Unfortunately, since the breast is not the same, the nipples may not point in the same direction they used to.
Oh yeah, and those stretch marks….? Not going anywhere. Sorry.
Sadly, your breasts may also be very different sizes (lopsided).
Ways women describe post-pregnancy breasts
“Tube socks filled with change”
“Tube socks filled with an orange”
“An extra purse” (presumably to tuck things under, like a credit card or some extra cash)
“empty banana peels”
“they live in my arm-pits”
(Now I totally understand why so many women choose to only engage in relations with their partners while wearing a bra, or they run to have their breasts augmented. Should you be self-conscious about your changed breasts? I say emphatically NO. Don’t be ashamed. You went through a lot, having those babies, nursing those babies, loving those babies. Your breasts are fine the way they are. )
For more info about breastfeeding, check out our Breastfeeding FAQs post: 100 Breastfeeding Tips For New Moms.
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Emily Anderson is a mother of three children, all under the age of 10. Located in the Pacific Northwest of the US, Emily is a mom and part-time blogger, jumping in front of the computer when the kids are sleeping. She started this blog in April of 2019 and is proud that the blog is now paying for itself. If you want to know about her journey as a blogger, check out out her personal digital journal or her post about failing her way to blogging success.