Does breastfeeding cause saggy breasts?

I should begin by saying that this post is meant to open a frank conversation on the merits of widely held belief, spread anecdotally, that breastfeeding causes sagging breasts.

It was inspired by a recent encounter with my new breasts in an excessively lit Macys dressing room. It was New Years day, and I was trying on bras to fit my newly formed breasts.

In fitting a strap over my shoulder, I caught a glimpse of them for, what seemed like, the first time since pregnancy. I turned away, then turned back, thinking that what I was seeing was not really me, but someone else. (Yes, as you know, I do have problems with mirrors.)

I asked, perhaps aloud, “Who is that woman?” I knew upon enunciating “woman” that she was me.

(sigh)

I still didn’t want to believe it, however. So, I then asked, “What happened to her (or my) breasts?” And “Why didn’t she (or I) see this (or them) sooner?”

Up until that unwanted encounter, I was convinced that it was pregnancy, not breastfeeding, that causes a woman’s breasts to, well, creep southward. I said this, as you may recall, in the post “Obnoxious Comments and Clever Responses: Breastfeeding,” and I continued to cite this fact (as elaborated by numerous studies pointed to by breastfeeding advocates) to any mom who is even remotely considering not breastfeeding for the sake of her breasts.

But, let me play devil’s advocate for a second and ask, what if? What if, despite the research that says otherwise, breastfeeding does cause a woman’s breasts to sag more than if she had not breastfed at all?

In speaking with some other breastfeeding moms about their very changed breasts upon weaning their children, I heard the following:

a) “My baby pulled on them too much during feedings…”
b) “I was too rough when expressing milk with my hand…”
c) “I attempted to feed my baby too often while in his car seat..”
d) “I didn’t wear bras (like I was supposed to) at night…”

“…and THIS is why my breasts are more saggy/deflated/covered with stretch marks/etc.”

Because I have enjoyed my experience in nursing my daughter and value the benefits of breastfeeding more than the possible downfalls of possibly lumpy, sagging, or deflated breasts, I’m ok with the possible “truth” that it is breastfeeding that leads to more, well, uh, changes (yes, that sounds best).

And, if a new mom interested in breastfeeding came to me with concerns about its impact on the shape of her breasts, I would likely lie and refer her to the numerous studies produced that prove that breastfeeding is not be blamed. This , after all, or at least it seems, is the most appropriate, scientifically supported response. It is the necessary response to prevent women from choosing to care about how their breasts look while trying on bras in a well-lit Macys department store. Right? Right?!

If you are (or were) a breastfeeding mom, how did your breasts change post-weaning your child? Is there any truth to the widely believed myth that breastfeeding causes saggy breasts?

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20 Responses to “Does breastfeeding cause saggy breasts?”

  1. Preshus Me says:

    Mine were not so much saggy as they were less full after I finished breastfeeding my first son. Since I got pregnant again about 2 months after I finished breastfeeding my son, I can't say how my boobs will end up after breastfeeding my 2nd son, but I presume they will sag due to their deflated state.

  2. 1001petals says:

    I have heard the argument that it's pregnancy that makes breasts sag, not breastfeeding, but I totally don't buy it. I think pregnancy changes breasts, but breastfeeding definitely does a number on them. I've been breastfeeding for 3 yrs, and just have an 11 week old now, so have no idea how they'll be after. I do know I was a perfect A cup before, my breasts looked like this: oo and I've been every cup size up to E in the last few years, and now they look like this: W :(

  3. Lucy says:

    I'm kind of in denial about the changes in my breasts. They still look great to me. But my daughter does pull when she feeds, I do breastfeed her in the carseat, and I do not wear a bra at night. I've always loved my breasts and I will continue to love them, even if they are not quite as perky as they once were (and they were very round and perky once upon a time). As the daughter of a breast cancer survivor, I could care less what they look like as long as I have both of them in tact :)

  4. Only You says:

    There are fewer cruel things in the world than dressing room mirrors post-childbirth…I've definitely had my share of freakshow moments there!!

    I wish I could give a good answer here. I did breastfeed, but I am so small chested that I can't tell if there was any effect (i.e., nothing to sag)…

    I try to make myself feel better by considering all my post-labor body changes my "battle scars"!

  5. 1001petals says:

    On second thought, UU is more accurate than WW. Things are not that scary! And yes, breastfeeding is worth it.

  6. Buckeroomama says:

    I've only stopped breastfeeding last Aug when Z was about 3 and a bit. After having breastfed two (J for 18 months, with a 9-month break before Z came along), my breasts have definitely "changed." Up from a B to a C, but yes, a bit saggier. Not sure if this is due purely to breastfeeding, though. I hate wearing bras at home, so this might have contributed some… plus I'm 40 now. :) Regardless, I'd breastfeed all over again if we ever have another child. The benefits far outweigh the 'disadvantages.'

  7. Monique says:

    I don't my breasts have changed much. I had a breast reduction a few years before getting pregnant with my son and my biggest concern was whether or not I would be able to breastfeed.

  8. flyrish says:

    I couldn't say what caused mine to sag, but they are smaller than ever and saggy now. But a friend told me that it takes just as long as you breastfed (or a bit longer) for them to perk up again. But she's always had amazing breasts, so who knows?

  9. Jessica says:

    @Preshus Me: Deflated is a good word to describe what has happened to my breasts, too. Good know I am not the only one.

    @1001 Petals: lol! I love your use of letters to create a visual of your breasts. Mine are more like UU, too.

    @Lucy: That's a wonderful perspective to have on this. Thanks for sharing!

    @Only You: I love the idea of thinking of them as battle scars. That is, after all, what they are, scars of the motherhood battle.

    @Buckeroomama: "The benefits far outweigh the 'disadvantages'."- So true!

    @Monique: That's great that you were able to breastfeed and that your breast didn't change much.

    @flyrish: I never heard of that logic, but it sounds appealing. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Anonymous says:

    I'm breastfeeding my son (first child) now and he's only 3 weeks old, so I'm not sure what my outcome will be. But I have a cousin who did not breastfeed her children and her breasts were deflated and saggy after her pregnancies. So either way, not sure if the outcome would be the same!

  11. Kelly says:

    My aunt didn't breast feed and hers are like UU instead of like oo Mine were small to begin with, and they are small now just small a little lower…I think it's age not breastfeeding. I could be wrong though. I still think age/weight family history has something to do with it :)

  12. Bettie says:

    When I was still single, my breasts look like this, OO. But when I started breastfeeding, it now looks like this, UU. Well, not that bad at all for me. But my friends would often tell me that I should get my breasts done to make it look more appealing. There's no harm in trying so I guess, I should try it soon.

  13. Anonymous says:

    i breastfed my daughter for 2 years. She is now nearly 4, I am nearly 29. There are certainly saggy. My C38 cup went down to a B34 on good days, and when the bar is off they look like m about 93 years old. however, I nursed in the car seat an awful lot, in bed to get her back to sleep, etc. you name it she nursed it.
    I have come to realise I would not have on ebit of problem with them if we were not constantly bombarded by "perfect" (unrealistisc) breasts in teh media, and if my fiance did not seem to have a fancy for young large breasts.
    Breastfeeding her was worth it of course. no doubt. and, if i ever haev anotther child, i know i couldnt give them a bottle.
    gravity pulls us down. I know my breasts grew a lot during preganncy, at least one cup size maybe more, i think the shirnkage of that had more to do with it than nursing but who knows?
    all i know, is we shouldnt have to compare ourselves to young, perky breasts bc we are MOMS. i wish ic oudl say i dont do it, and i honestly dont think i would compare myself to the magazines in teh gorvery store or women o TV if not for the pressure ifeel to be those women form the media and yes, sadly even my fiance.
    change in our bodies was ineveitable. my body went back nearly to normal, but not my breasts.
    i am pleased to see moms who nursed communicating wiht other moms.

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  15. Sommer J says:

    If you go back to your pre-pregnancy weight or less, you will see a significant difference whether you breastfed or not. I have friends who have not breastfed complain about their boobs. I also have friend who have breastfed claim their breasts got bigger, but I also believe these women gained more weight since having children. Now that I am through- yes I have breastfed my son for 2.5 looooong years, I am in the market for boob job. they don’t look bad, just….sigh.

  16. Super mom says:

    I’ve breastfed my first baby for 8 months, and weened her off about 5 months ago. At first my breasts were……lets just say sacks of potatoes for a while. Before pregnancy they were really perky, and this change definitally scared me, but now they have gotten their perky-ness back. Ive been reading and it does show that breasts will go back to somewhat of their natural shape. Which mine did and i sure am glad, it just takes some time :)

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  18. Khadija says:

    So true. My breast definitely went south after the first one,…now they are full again with the second child and my husband is in awe of them

    • Jessica says:

      lol. I’m glad you could relate! My breast-story is similar. So long as I’m pregnant/breastfeeding, I am okay. But, I wonder what will become of me once I stop having kids. Eeek. That could be scary. lol.

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