Breasts change a lot during pregnancy and breastfeeding. They can become engorged with milk, and nipples may get bigger or smaller.
During the first 3 months after baby is born, it’s normal to have a lot of milk and can feel engorged (full, tender breasts). If not relieved quickly, this can lead to blocked ducts which can cause mastitis.
Breasts swell with milk while breastfeeding, and this can leave one breast smaller or a bit misshapen after the baby is weaned. Each breast is independent, however, and what happens to one does not necessarily happen to the other. In fact, some women experience nipple pain from a plugged milk duct or thrush and this can lead to breast engorgement that may cause one breast to overfill with milk more than the other. This can also leave a woman with nipples that are different sizes, as well as the appearance of a bump or puckering in one breast.
Breast engorgement is normal and will often go away once you’re done nursing. You’ll find that your nipples and Montgomery glands will return to their pre-pregnancy size, and the stretch marks you developed during pregnancy will lighten, though they may not completely disappear.
The exact shape of your nipples after breastfeeding isn’t as common to discuss, but many women find that their nipples become droopy or saggy after the baby is weaned. This is because your connective tissue stretches out during pregnancy and breastfeeding and your nipples have to expand to make room for all that milk. It’s not always possible for your nipples to return to their original size, and the sagging you experience may be permanent depending on your body and genetics.
During pregnancy, estrogen and progesterone cause the lobules and milk ducts in your breasts to grow and thicken. The nipples will also increase in size and darken as a result of being stretched by your growing body. Some women may also get stretch marks in their nipple area, which is normal. Some mothers find that their nipples are pink or itchy, which can be a sign of thrush or mastitis. These conditions are uncomfortable, but they are not dangerous and should resolve themselves in time.
After childbirth and breastfeeding, the nipples should shrink back to their original size. Breasts will be smaller than before and won’t be as perky as they were pre-pregnancy, but that’s okay. If you’re lucky, fatty tissue will redistribute into your breasts, giving them a fuller look.
Some women will never reshape their boobs after pregnancy, and that’s OK too. You can still enjoy them and be proud of them. For those who do want to reshape their nipples, there are non-invasive treatments that can help. If they don’t work, a surgical procedure can restore your breasts to their pre-pregnancy shape. But be careful, not all procedures are safe to perform while breastfeeding. Always talk to your doctor before deciding what’s right for you. You can also try a diet that is high in foods that improve muscle tone and skin suppleness, which can help your breasts return to their original shape faster after pregnancy.
Breasts change a lot during pregnancy and breastfeeding. They enlarge by a cup size or more, their nipples darken, and stretch marks are common. The good news is that these changes are temporary.
After you stop breastfeeding, your nipples will shrink back to their pre-pregnancy shape. They may also swell and become painfully engorged from time to time.
When this happens, the nipple tissue can’t retract as easily and that can cause your boobs to appear misshapen. That’s why it is important to use a well-fitting bra that provides proper support for your breasts throughout breastfeeding and beyond.
If your nipples are cracked, itchy or dry, or you have shooting pain deep in the breast between feedings, you may have a fungal infection called thrush. This can be painful and uncomfortable and can increase your risk of mastitis. If you experience this, see a doctor or lactation consultant right away.
It is also normal for nipples to leak at night. Putting nursing pads in your bra will help absorb this moisture. You can also try manual expression (putting your thumb on top of your areola and your index finger below) or pumping to get the excess milk out of your nipples. It can help if you don’t miss a feeding, eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of fluids to keep your body hydrated.
After baby is born, hormones cause your breasts to start full milk production. Then the milk and blood begin to flow into your nipples, making them overfill and swollen (called engorgement). This is normal and usually happens within the first few days after birth, but can happen at any time if your baby doesn’t latch or nurse properly or if you don’t pump often enough.
Breast engorgement feels tight, painful and full of pressure and can make it hard for your baby to latch on to the breast. It can also lead to plugged ducts and mastitis, which is an infection that affects the tissue in your nipple and causes a lot of swelling.
Engorgement usually goes away in a day or two once your body understands how much milk your baby needs and gets into a feeding routine. Until then, nurse or pump frequently, 8 to 12 times in 24 hours.
If you have a fever along with the symptoms of engorgement, talk to your doctor right away because it could be an indication of a more serious infection like mastitis. Otherwise, take it easy and use ice packs or cabbage leaves on your nipples to help relieve the pain and firmness. You’ll also want to try eating high-protein foods, like fish, eggs and nuts to help increase your supply of milk-producing enzymes.