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What Happens to the Breast after Breastfeeding?

Breast undergo both short term and long term changes due to breastfeeding.
Before breastfeeding the breast may appear swollen and hard.
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  • Written By: Malysa Stratton Louk
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 19 November 2014
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There are two ways to looks at changes to the breast after breastfeeding: short-term and long-term. Short-term changes to the breast occur immediately after each breastfeeding, while long-term changes affect the breast after the infant is weaned. Short-term changes primarily involve the relief of pressure on the breast. Long-term changes may include stretch marks, enlarged nipples and sagging. Not all women with experience long-term changes and the breasts may return to their pre-breastfeeding shape and form within six to nine months after weaning.

Breasts often become engorged and feel swollen and firm, if not downright hard, before breastfeeding as the breasts produce and fill with milk. As the infant suckles, the pressure is relieved and the breast after breastfeeding is much softer. Shortly after a feeding is finished, there often is a tingling or slight burning sensation as the breast begins producing more milk in anticipation of the next feeding. Milk leaking from the breast after breastfeeding is common and usually minimal, although this can continue for several months as the milk dries up after the infant is weaned.

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It is common for women, especially new mothers, to have sore and chapped nipples after breastfeeding. This is temporary and easily alleviated by properly caring for the breasts after breastfeeding. Applying lanolin or vitamin E immediately after a feeding keeps the breasts from chapping and helps to relieve previously chapped nipples. Severely sore nipples after breastfeeding are often the result of the infant improperly latching on or pulling off. Proper infant placement and switching sides often will reduce the likelihood of overly sore and tender breasts after breastfeeding.

Vitamin E oil and lanolin are also helpful in reducing the long-term effects of stretch marks that develop as a result of swollen and engorged breasts. While minor stretch marks are easier to treat, most stretch marks can at least be reduced with proper care. Those with naturally smaller breasts can help reduce stretch marks by breastfeeding more often or expressing milk between feedings. Preventing the breasts from becoming overly engorged will also help to prevent permanent stretch marks.

Permanent changes to the breast after breastfeeding ceases often include enlarged nipples and sagging breasts. Long-term nipple size usually is determined by the size of the nipple during breastfeeding, and breastfeeding women who do not experience enlarged nipples generally do not see a post-weaning change in nipple size. Women who experience larger breasts while pregnant and breastfeeding usually see a return to normal after breastfeeding, though often with some degree of sagging. On rare occasions, women may find their breasts after breastfeeding to be smaller than their breasts pre-pregnancy.

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Animandel
Post 3
Do you know that wearing a supportive bra after you have a baby will help your breasts from getting saggy? They are fuller because of the breast milk after you have been pregnant and if you don't wear something to support them they will stretch out. Actually, it is a good idea to wear supportive underwear while you are pregnant, too.
Sporkasia
Post 2

@Laotionne - I agree that breast augmentation surgery can help in some ways after you have a baby and breast feed, but there are some risks. Well, there are risks with any surgery so why should this surgery be any different?

However, you should be aware that not all of these procedures turn out perfectly. Sometimes your breasts don't end up well proportioned after surgery, a little variation is fine, but sometimes the difference after surgery is more noticeable than you would like.

Also, there are also a lot of choices in types of surgery. I guess this a good thing, but it makes choosing so much harder. For starters: Do you want silicon or saline? Silicon looks and feels more natural, but saline costs less and doesn't carry the same dangers if a leak develops. The more research you do the more confusing it can get.

Laotionne
Post 1

I haven't had a baby yet, but I hope to get married one day. I look forward to having babies and starting a real family of my own. I hope this doesn't sound too vain, but I am not looking forward to what is going to happen to my body when and if I do have kids.

Honestly, if there wasn't so much research supporting the benefits of breast feeding for a baby's immune system, I might skip that part of motherhood all together. Of course, the good news is that breast augmentation and breast implants can do a lot to help you get your breast back into form.

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