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Can I get my boobs back???
October 21, 2011 9:57 AM   Subscribe

Is there anything I can do about post-breast-feeding shrinkage?

I'm going through a crisis about the shrinking of my boobs since I stopped breast-feeding a couple of months ago. Prior to pregnancy I was a solid B-cup, and now I feel I have shrunk to an A (I haven't tested with a new bra but my old bras are a bit baggy). What's more, my once firm breasts are now soft and inconsequential. I know it's a first world problem but I can't help but feel sort of devastated!

I always loved my boobs and felt very confident being topless. Now I feel self-conscious when I'm getting undressed. I hate being naked even when I'm alone. My boobs just look deflated and I hate them. I hate how they look and feel. My dear husband insists that they still look fine etc. I sort of believe him but I don't care - I still hate them.

Tonight I was lying in bed and considering the actual possibility of surgery.

Have other people experienced boob shrinkage after breast feeding? I wonder if there is anything I can do. I am quite small and I wondered if putting on weight would help (I am a couple of kilos lighter than even before I was pregnant).

If you have experienced this, was there anything you could do about it? Did you get surgery? I don't like the idea of surgery or implants at all, but I also hate the idea of never feeling comfortable being naked again...

-If it makes any difference, I've had one baby who is now 11 months, I stopped breast feeding at 8.5 months. I don't plan on having more children (we only ever wanted one).

(also, I read this question, but I wanted to hear from women specific to my situation. Though maybe going on the pill would help?)
posted by saturn~jupiter to Health & Fitness (19 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
I went through exactly what you did. I've had three kids, and my youngest is 3.

Gaining weight helped immensely. My last well fitted bra was a 32 DD, but I've gained a little weight and I need to be refit. I think I'm probably closer to 34 DD now. Pre-pregnancy I was 32 B-ish.

My breasts are much softer than they were, and I am a little saggier than I was, but it's not like they're hanging down around my waist! When I'm wearing a properly fit bra everything looks great. I'm still uncomfortable naked, but my husband is happy so I try to deal with it.
posted by TooFewShoes at 10:03 AM on October 21, 2011


How about some indirect surgery experience? I shadowed a breast-specializing plastic surgeon for a bit in high school, and one of the women I saw (several months post-op) had gone in for surgery after pregnancy. She had a small cup size (and had always had a small cup size) and was unhappy with the way her breasts looked after nursing. She got a lift, but no implants. Her breasts were small, but perky and firm (appearing--I was invited to touch them and see for myself, but I declined). She seemed thrilled with them. (She was also done having kids.)

So it's up to you. I'm sure your boobs look just fine, but I understand that if you're not happy you're not happy. Just a data point.
posted by phunniemee at 10:06 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


phunniemee - I didn't know there was such a thing as a "lift" - what does it entail exactly?
posted by saturn~jupiter at 10:12 AM on October 21, 2011


It's kind of gory. Cut around the nipple and make an anchor shape down the front (proportionally larger or smaller anchor depending on breast size). Remove the anchor triangle, close the flaps, reposition the nipple, then sew it all back up. Basically, you take skin out of the breast sack (there has got to be a better term for that) so that the breast tissue has less space to fill (and thus projects more and feels firmer). Here's a picture. Pretty cool.
posted by phunniemee at 10:16 AM on October 21, 2011


Oh, and you can get an idea for what kind of difference a breast lift would make by grabbing a bit of skin on the underside of your boob and pinching it together.
posted by phunniemee at 10:18 AM on October 21, 2011


I see! Thank you for explaining.
posted by saturn~jupiter at 10:21 AM on October 21, 2011


Before you make any big decisions, I'd give your body a little bit of time to stabilize... while some changes are permanent, not ALL changes are - remember how your belly looked after you gave birth? I was kind of droppy and crepe-y post-weaning, and while my boobs aren't totally amazing NOW, they're a damned sight better than they were immediately after I stopped breastfeeding.
posted by julthumbscrew at 10:32 AM on October 21, 2011 [8 favorites]


Breast tissue matures when you're pregnant in order to produce milk (that's why one of the first signs of pregnancy is sore breasts). So it's common to have firmer, perkier breasts before you are pregnant, and softer, less perky breasts afterwards (yeah, I hear you with "deflated", there). FWIW this happens whether you breastfeed or not - it's not nursing that causes this, it's pregnancy.

I've gone through this as well. It seems to be something you don't find out (or fully absorb the impact of) until it's already happened to you. And since we're primed to think now that firm/perky breasts are "the way breasts should look" (we don't see naked normal post-partum breasts very often; when we do, it's mocked and played for laughs) it can really do a number on you and your self-image - because short of surgery you won't be able to get back to pre-pregnancy breasts; that's just how our bodies work.

Gaining a little weight can help; lots of women say when they lose weight they tend to lose it from the breasts first - which makes sense since breasts are mostly fat. And weightlifting/chest exercises are something else you can do - strengthening the pectoral muscles will help raise the bustline.

I have heard re: surgery that most breast lifts post-pregnancy need implants in order to look right. And regarding bras, you should be re-fitted after pregnancy. Your body could have changed not just in cup size but in band size as well - don't automatically assume you're down a cup size.

But as to the losing confidence when naked... yeah. I'm sorry. All I can tell you is that you (and I) are not alone; I think many women go through this but it's just not something that gets talked about. I, personally, have needed a lot of reassurance from my husband (and yes, I still don't completely believe him, nor does it make me feel hot or anything; it just helps in feeling less self-conscious so I can enjoy getting it on); I have worked on accepting my body for what it is now, which has taken some years and I'm still not all the way there, but it's better.

I've focused on trying to be healthy in a way I wasn't back when I didn't worry about my body; that there is value in a strong, healthy body. I think about how I'm happy to be older and wiser now; I wouldn't want to be 22 again, so I have to accept that my body isn't going to be 22 again either. Also, I tell myself that, sure, I could get my breasts done, but they might look pretty weird when the rest of my body starts to go too, won't they?

I hope you find my thoughts helpful.
posted by flex at 10:50 AM on October 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


My ob told me that it takes about a year for fat to finish redepositing on your breasts after weaning. They slowly reinflate. They may or may not be as large as before; they will probably (but not necessarily) be saggier, but bras can fix that. Changes in weight will, of course, make a difference as well.

I would give it some time to stabilize, as others are suggesting, before you jump right to surgery.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:56 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


If your breasts expanded during pregnancy (I know mine did) did you keep wearing your regular bras for awhile? They may just be a little stretched out. I needed to get new ones after my breasts and weight more or less stabilized, 1 1/2 or 2 years after my daughter was born. So give yourself some time, yes, but also give yourself a pretty new bra, that fits just right. (That can also make you happier being shirtless with your husband and work your way back to topless.)

I saw an art exhibit one time, of just women's breasts, not prettified or pornographied, but just as they are. I wish I could find something like that online for you, because it was really nice to see all the variation and change and be more comfortable with my own oddities. (It's hard if all you see are movie star or porn star breasts; nobody can compete with that.)
posted by Margalo Epps at 11:09 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Re Margalo Epps's picture suggestion - there's a website called 'Shape of a Moth, er' that's good for that. I really like it to give a sense of normal variation and try to wrench my brain away from (airbrushed) models.

I also wanted to suggest that some of this body image change might also be hormonal; I've talked to a few people who've noticed that going on/off the pill changes how attractive they think they are, with no measurable external changes (weight = same, bra size = same, clothes size = same, other people say they look the same). So it seems like pregnancy hormones could also influence how good you feel about yourself.
posted by Lady Li at 11:19 AM on October 21, 2011


*that was, 'Shape of a Mother'. I wondered where my cursor had vanished to when I was typing that comma...
posted by Lady Li at 11:20 AM on October 21, 2011


Shrinking was a shock for me as well, but within a year or so, mine looked more like before (not as perky, but not smaller). Chances are you'll have the same experience. Meanwhile, a better bra is your friend.

Ask yourself this: if your husband was the one who went through all the stresses and strains of pregnancy/breastfeeding, and as a result he was a little different/softer looking in different areas of his body...would you judge him for it? Would you lose interest?

Time changes all of us, even if we don't have babies. If you can accept that in other people you love, then maybe you can accept it in yourself too, yes?
posted by emjaybee at 1:07 PM on October 21, 2011


You can work your pectoral muscles that support the breasts, which can make some difference (not huge, but some). Most women don't have much upper body strength, and working with weights is one way to develop that part. Also, new bras.
posted by Ideefixe at 3:46 PM on October 21, 2011


Thank you so much everyone who has posted here. Just reading these makes me feel better. I really appreciate it! I will definitely get a hot new bra as soon as possible. Thank you.
posted by saturn~jupiter at 4:17 PM on October 21, 2011


Margalo Epps: " ... of just women's breasts, not prettified or pornographied, but just as they are. I wish I could find something like that online for you, ... "
Lady Li: "*that was, 'Shape of a Mother'. I wondered where my cursor had vanished to when I was typing that comma..."
The Shape Of A Mother

posted by dancestoblue at 5:09 PM on October 21, 2011


On the other hand, my breasts were almost up to a solid B when I was pregnant and nursing, and then they deflated to a not-quite-A. It's been a year and a half since I stopped nursing, so I think this is probably the long-term status. Sigh.

(FWIW, I am about 95 lbs and 5', and I was just over a 32A before pregnancy.)

(Honestly, the lack of boobs doesn't bother me so much---I never had much anyway---but the poochy flabby post-pregnancy belly bothers me quite a bit. It's not fat, just total lack of muscle tone combined with abdominal muscles that separated during pregnancy and never rejoined, making abdominal exercise problematic.)
posted by leahwrenn at 8:16 PM on October 21, 2011


I know I'm the 'wrong' gender to reply, but there is a very well known Taoist self massage that increases breast size. It's called the deer massage - takes about five minutes twice a day over a period of three to six months to increase one cup size. I've taught this to a very large number of women [childless/recent mothers/mothers of several children] and know from their experience that it does work. There are many web-sites, one of which is http://naturalremedysite.blogspot.com/2007/11/increase-cup-size-in-30-days-with.html. On this page, at least, nothing is being 'sold' and the method shown is the correct one (other than her time scale, which I think is too short). Or just google something like 'deer massage for women' [there is a different one, same name, for men's problems].
posted by nickji at 12:07 PM on October 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


hmm, thank you nickji.! very intriguing.
posted by saturn~jupiter at 1:31 AM on October 24, 2011


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