How to Prevent Breast Sagging After Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Breast sagging is a natural part of a woman’s life. It occurs as we begin to age and is further intensified by a number of different reasons. While there are some things that you can do to address the cosmetic concerns associated with sagging breasts, prevention and living a healthy lifestyle is the best way to limit the overall droopiness that occurs over time. Sagging breasts, or ptosis, occur due to the ligaments and muscles underneath the skin. The excess strain that pregnancy and breastfeeding put on these ligaments can stretch them out and increase the appearance of saggy or droopy breasts. If you’re worried about how this will change your body, here’s how to prevent breast sagging after pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Why do Breasts Sag?

Breasts begin to sag primarily due to the changes in your Cooper’s ligaments. Cooper’s ligaments are the ligaments in your breasts that are responsible for the perkiness and support that we often associate with youthfulness. As time passes and our bodies go through different experiences, these ligaments stretch out. This, in addition to the natural decrease in your body’s collagen production, is what causes the inevitable sagginess that many women dread. Some factors that influence the severity of sagginess include genetics, age, gravity, BMI, pregnancy, and breastfeeding.

  • Genetics – the way your breasts are shaped, and their general size, will have an impact on the severity of breast sagging you experience.
  • Age – as you get older, ligaments lose elasticity and you’re more likely to be affected by gravity, changes in BMI, and pregnancy. Sagging breasts are, unfortunately, part of the process of getting older.
  • Gravity – whether you’re walking around, sitting on the couch, or sleeping, gravity is affecting your body. It pulls your breasts down and causes ligament strain.
  • BMI – if you lose or gain weight too quickly, it can cause strain on Cooper’s ligaments that results in sagging. The higher your BMI, the larger your breasts. The larger your breasts, the more they’ll be impacted by gravity and therefore, sagging.
  • Smoking – if you smoke, quit. It’s a bad habit that wreaks havoc on your entire body. Smoking decreases the amount of collagen and elasticity in your skin, which contributes to both sagging breasts and premature aging.
  • Breastfeeding – one of the biggest culprits for sagging breasts is breastfeeding. Changes in how your glands function and the size increase to accommodate milk storage leads to stretching.
  • Pregnancy – while breastfeeding is a big reason that breasts sag, the changes that happen in your body during pregnancy also have an effect. Your breasts change a lot throughout your pregnancy. Hormones are released that tell your body to begin making milk and your breasts grow accordingly. Even if you decide not to breastfeed, your body will still make milk to prepare, so you’ll still be subject to sagging once your breast milk dries up. The more pregnancies you have, the more your breasts will sag.

Understanding Involution

Involution is a term describing the way in which breasts begin to return to the way they were pre-pregnancy and breastfeeding. Regardless of the preventative measures you take, this will naturally occur. It begins about six months after you stop breastfeeding. The effects continue to become more pronounced until your breasts appear similar to their former size and shape. Involution does not mean that your breasts will look exactly the same, but they won’t have the engorged look or feel that is common during breastfeeding.

Some women may notice that their breasts shrink to a smaller size than before pregnancy. This is due to shrinking breast tissue that occurs after milk production stops. If your breast tissue shrinks to a smaller size than pre-pregnancy, you’ll likely experience more of a sagging or deflated appearance. The skin around your breast does not continue to shrink for an indefinite period of time. Your skin itself can therefore appear stretched out, which can cause cosmetic concerns for some women. We’ll address how to handle cosmetic concerns later. To experience the lowest degree of change during involution, it’s important to take preventative measures.

How to Prevent Breast Sagging

It’s impossible to prevent your breasts from sagging at all, but there are measures you can take to limit the severity of sagging.

Wear Supportive Bras

While the act of wearing a bra doesn’t prevent sagging alone, it can help avoid unnecessary ligament stretching for those that need extra help. Supportive bras help to counteract the effect of gravity and give ligaments a break. However, for those with smaller breasts, going braless may help your body build up strength and actually increase firmness. Do what’s comfortable for you. If you’re nursing, exercising, or have naturally larger breasts, we recommend finding a good bra.

Eat Healthy Foods

Consuming nutrient dense foods will help you maintain a healthy weight and give your body what it needs to function. Healthy diets can help improve your body’s collagen levels and revamp slow or stalled production. It will also lead to a healthier weight, which reduces unnecessary strain on your breasts and other parts of your body. Try to incorporate foods that are rich in antioxidants to help eliminate toxins and make sure you get enough protein to efficiently synthesize collagen.

Stay Hydrated

Drinking enough water allows your body to perform optimally. Water improves the function of all of your vital organs, including the skin. By staying hydrated, you’ll improve the elasticity of your skin overtime and avoid premature aging.

Maintain Healthy Weight Gain

You’re supposed to gain weight throughout your pregnancy. However, there is a difference between healthy and unhealthy weight gain. While you’re eating for two, this usually only means an extra 200-500 calories, depending on your trimester. By maintaining a healthy weight gain, you’ll avoid increasing your body fat percentage, which can lead to increased strain on Cooper’s ligaments. Similarly, when you’re losing the baby weight, don’t rush to get it off. Slowly losing weight allows your body to adjust to the changes and tighten skin during the process.

Stay Moisturized

Keeping your skin moisturized helps to improve the overall elasticity. Take some time after your shower or bath to apply moisturizer to your body and don’t skip your breasts. Using lotion regularly can help prevent sagging, especially after breastfeeding. Just make sure that it’s a baby-safe moisturizer.

Exercise

By doing targeted exercises when your body is ready, you can strengthen the muscles in your chest, which may help reduce sagging. Always make sure to discuss any new regimens with your doctor and don’t take on too much, too fast. Ease into exercising by starting with walks and some strength training exercises. The best ones to target breast muscles include push-ups, arm raises, bench press, and chest fly. These can be done with small dumbbells at home or resistance bands.

Avoid Smoking 

We mentioned this above, but if you smoke, quit. Not only is smoking detrimental to the health of your baby, but it also has serious implications on your body. Smoking is one of the best ways to completely eradicate elasticity in your skin, which will lead to dramatically pronounced sagging. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor today.

While there’s nothing more relaxing than a hot shower, there are numerous benefits of incorporating cold water into the mix. By alternating between hot and cold temperatures, you can help increase circulation that detoxifies your skin, strengthen ligaments, and boost collagen production. Cold showers are also shown to have a positive impact on immune system and healthy weight maintenance.

Wean Your Baby Slowly

When you immediately make the switch from breastfeeding to solid foods, it sends a shock to your system. Doing so can increase your risk for clogged ducts, mastitis, and engorgement. When you wean your baby slowly, it’s easier on your body. The tissues in your breasts that make milk will slowly get replaced with fatty tissue, giving your skin time to tone. This leads to more efficient involution and less sagging.

Addressing Cosmetic Concerns

While we believe that all bodies should be celebrated, some women have difficulty with the cosmetic changes that occur with breast sagging. If preventative measures aren’t effective, talk to your doctor about your options for plastic surgery. Breast augmentation and breast lifts are effective at eliminating breast sagging, but they can interfere with breastfeeding in the future. Therefore, it’s best to wait. Talk to your doctor and prospective plastic surgeon for more clarifications on surgical options.

For more resources and support on breastfeeding, breast pumping, pregnancy, and how your body changes with children, Byram Healthcare has you covered.