May 17, 2023

What may happen to your breasts after birth

Sophie Allen
Sophie Allen
What may happen to your breasts after birth

When you have a baby, your body goes through a lot of changes, including how your breasts look and feel. It is common for women to worry about what will happen to their breasts after they have a child.

"Will they hurt? Will it make it saggy? Will the milk make them too full? What is mastitis, then? "

Here is some information about your breasts after giving birth...


After having a baby, a lot of women worry about how their breasts will look. Some women say that their breasts change in size and shape after they have a baby.

Most women say that breastfeeding makes their breasts bigger and less firm, but did you know that the changes are actually caused by pregnancy, not breastfeeding?

The breasts may be larger during the first few months of breastfeeding, but after stopping breastfeeding and before becoming pregnant, the majority of women's breasts return to their previous size.

We found some research that discovered that some women who fed their babies formula had the same changes as women who breastfed. The amount that breasts sagged after giving birth depended on how old the woman was, how much she weighed, how many times she had given birth, and what size bra she wore before she got pregnant. It is clear from this that each person's experience with their breasts during and after pregnancy varies greatly, so don’t worry!


Lactating breasts

A few days after birth, the breasts start making milk. For the first few days, they make a substance called "colostrum." When milk is made, the breasts may feel heavy, full, and sore. This will happen whether you choose to breastfeed or not.

When you start making milk, you might find that it leaks out of your nipples. You can easily purchase some breast pads to help keep your clothes from getting wet, and you can change them often to reduce your chance of getting an infection.


Cracked Nipples

Some women have sore or cracked nipples when they breastfeed. If their baby doesn't have a good latch or isn't feeding well, their nipples get sore or crack. For help with positioning, you can talk to a breastfeeding counsellor or midwife.

A little bit of breastmilk can help soothe sore nipples if you rub it in. Breast milk has been proven to heal nipples more effectively than over-the-counter nipple creams.


Breast Engorgement

When your breasts are full of milk and feel hard, tight, or painful, this is called primary breast engorgement. Engorgement can also happen when your baby gets older and you feed your little one less often.

  • If you're breastfeeding, make sure your baby can get a good hold and feed when he or she needs to (and for how long your baby wants to). If this doesn't make your breasts feel better, try expressing a little milk instead.

  • You could also take paracetamol or ibuprofen to treat the pain. If you are still full after 24 to 48 hours, we recommend you talk to your midwife.

  • Even if you don't breastfeed, your milk will still come in, and you may still feel the pain of engorgement.

If you don't want to breastfeed, it's important to deal with the pain without making your body keep making milk.

  • Some ways to do this are to put ice on your breasts, wear a supportive bra, or take painkillers.

  • Try not to touch or move the breasts, but if they are very painful, expressing a small amount of milk by hand will help relieve the pressure and pain.


Woman breastfeeding newborn

Clogged milk ducts

Some women have a blocked milk duct. When a duct is blocked, it feels like there's a small, painful lump in your breast. But try not to worry; they happen when pressure makes it so that milk doesn't flow evenly through the breasts and can be treated. Pressure could come from the outside, like a tight bra, or from the inside, like when your baby stops eating as often.

Here’s a tip to help them get unclogged:

  • Try to use warm flannels or showers to help reduce the pain

  • Feed frequently from the affected breast.

  • Massage the lump in the direction of the nipple.

  • Mastitis can happen if a clogged duct doesn't clear up. If this is a new term to you, here is where the breast hurts and feels hot. It might also look red or darker, and you might feel like you have the flu.

  • Keep feeding your baby from the affected breast, use warm flannel to help milk flow, and pump if it still feels full between feedings. If the symptoms don't go away, see your doctor as you may have an infection in your breast tissue that needs antibiotics. If mastitis doesn't go away, it needs to be treated because it can lead to a breast abscess.


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