Avoiding Saggy Breasts Syndrome After Nursing

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

saggy breastsOne of the saddest things I sometimes hear from women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant is that they intend to bottlefeed their baby because they’ve been warned, usually from their Mothers, that breastfeeding causes droopy, saggy breasts.

Even women who are in full support of breastfeeding seem to accept that the choice to feed their child naturally with the best Nature can provide will ultimately sacrifice the firmness of their breast tissue and that saggy breasts post nursing are just part of the package.

While every woman is different and certainly in some instances, pregnancy and breastfeeding can cause undesirable changes to the appearance of the bosom despite mom’s best efforts, there are definite strategies that women can implement prior to and during nursing that can greatly lessen the impact.

In fact, it is totally possible and even normal to nurse several children and have little to no change in the appearance of the bosom once weaning of the last child takes place.

Could Saggy Breasts Syndrome perhaps primarily be the result of the appalling diet of most nursing mothers and the modern, abrupt approach to weaning rather than the act of breastfeeding itself?

Avoid Saggy Breasts by Preparing Breast Tissue with Diet

The most important thing a woman can do prior to nursing is to adequately prepare the breasts for the stress and strain of nursing with a diet that results in very strong, elastic skin.

Of critical note is that a lowfat diet that eschews butter, cream, and other animal fats while including vegetable oils from factory produced, low cholesterol spreads, dressings and other processed foods is not going to result in the elastic breast skin that avoids Saggy Breast Syndrome.

The reason is that every single cell in your skin and body has a cell membrane that should ideally be composed of at least 50% saturated fat.  When the cell membranes of the skin are composed of mostly saturated fat like they should be, they are strong, resilient, and highly elastic with much cell membrane integrity.

If you avoid saturated fats in the diet and misguidedly starve your skin of the saturated fat it needs, instead consuming factory produced vegetable fats like soy and canola oil that are used heavily in nearly all processed foods, the cell membranes of your skin will incorporate some of these processed fats resulting in skin cells that are more easily damaged and not of the proper shape for the stretching and straining of nursing.

Plenty of saturated fats in the diet is also key to avoiding stretch marks on the breasts when the milk rapidly comes pouring in shortly after baby is born.   Skin cells with highly saturated cell membranes will be elastic and not easily damaged by this sudden strain!

Another critical fat that healthy skin needs is arachidonic acid.  This fat is primarily found in egg yolks and butter, which so many women preparing for pregnancy and nursing mistakenly avoid!   Women in traditional Chinese provinces like Chongqing know better, however, as they are encouraged to eat up to 10 eggs per day along with plenty of chicken and pork while nursing!   Perhaps this is one reason why it is rare to see a traditional Chinese woman with children who has breasts down around her belly button.

Arachidonic acid (AA) is an underappreciated fat for maintaining healthy skin.  Arachidonic acid is critical for the proper formation of the junctions between skin cells.   Without enough arachidonic acid in the diet, skin cannot adequately maintain moisture and is more susceptible to damage as the water between cells evaporates from missing cell-to-cell junctions.

Ideal Weaning Age to Minimize Saggy Breasts

In addition to diet, the approach a woman employs to wean her child significantly impacts the perkiness versus sagginess of her bosoms at the conclusion of breastfeeding.

The modern approach to weaning is to parent initiate the process and do so fairly suddenly once the child starts eating solid foods or Mom goes back to work.

Weaning around the 4-6 month mark contributes greatly to saggy breasts as this is the very time when baby’s demands for breastmilk are the greatest. Stopping nursing at this point is not a good idea as it can cause inordinantly saggy breasts with much excess skin much in the same way as an obese person who undergoes gastric bypass surgery and loses weight faster than the body can handle usually ends up with pounds and pounds of excess skin that need to be removed by surgery years later.

The better way to wean is as gradually as possible, ideally somewhere between the 2-4 year mark.  When weaning is very gradual with the demand for nursing by the child easing off slowly as his/her appetite for solid foods increases, the body has time to slowly shrink and reabsorb the breast tissue and skin that stretched and greatly expanded to accommodate large quantities of breastmilk when the child was an infant.

Think of the difference between someone who loses weight at a rapid pace which is what happens after gastric bypass surgery versus someone who loses weight more gradually with improvements in diet and exercise alone.  In the first scenario, much excess, sagging skin that needs to be removed by surgery is the typical result; in the second scenario, excess skin problems are much less of an issue if at all.

Nursing a child until 2-4 years old mimics the practice of Traditional Societies which carefully spaced the birth of children to ensure the optimal health of each child as well as the provision of nutrient dense breastmilk with all the helpful immune boosting factors until the child was well beyond babyhood.

Careful attention and thought to the diet followed well before pregnancy and during nursing as well as a slow instead of fast approach to weaning can go a long way toward ensuring that your breasts provide not only optimal nutrition for your baby but also maintain their shape afterwards!

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

Picture Credit 

 

Comments (169)

  1. There’s a very interesting dichotomy in these comments between those who claim to eschew “vanity” and “self image” in favour of selfless sacrifice for their children’s health and those who seem to think breast feeding is best kept to a minimum, out of sight and should stop when a child turns two.

    A little depressing too that people are so quick to pass judgement on the all ultimately well thought out decisions of other parents.

    So.. I think breast feeding is amazing, for the all the usual reasons, it allows a unique bond with your child, enables you to pass on antibodies and ultimately have a lot more control over your child’s nutrition (i.e. at any age, you’ll always have more say about your own diet than that of the cow or sheep which produced the bottled milk you buy).

    I also see views which try to portray breast feeding as deviant, anti-social, unnatural etc. (many of which are expressed in phrases such a “suck” “suck”, “drank from the tap” etc.) as both degrading and ultimately reminiscent of long entrenched discourses that try to attribute sin to a a woman’s body and choices.

    However, none of this should mean that we, as happily breast feeding mothers, should take the moral high ground. None of it means we should dismiss the “vanity” of others and box worries about self image, physical appearance, beauty, attractiveness away as shallow and irrelevant.

    I can only speak for myself and those around me, but worries like these do matter to me, and not (only) because we flock around seeking society’s approval of our body image, but because we are all growing older and because love for our children isn’t diametrically opposed to love for ourselves- the two can actually complement each other. I’d chose a happy, satisfied, proud parent who feels pleasure and love for life over one who is tied up in all the sacrifices he or she made to have kids any day.

    Rant aside, I think my experience corroborates the conclusions of this article. I breast fed my first child, who I had in my mid 20s, until he was 2, reducing feeds very gradually until, feeding on demand until I started work at 10 months and then slowly reducing it to night time only by about 18 months. My breasts stayed large, beautiful, good as new throughout and after I stopped.

    I am still breast feeding my second child, who I had in my late 20s and is now 17 months old, however, as I had to start work far earlier with her (I began leaving her for 9 hours a day when she was 4 months old). I started noticing my breasts were really losing size (for the first time ever) at about 7 months. I’ve been feeding her in the evenings ever since, but I think what was, in effect, a sudden reduction in feeding so early has taken its toll. Its worth saying, though, that despite all that, I have been able to carry on producing enough milk for her although I started working so early and even though I realised in my first week back at work that the time I’d spend pumping milk in my lunch breaks wasn’t time efficient and I might as well work through and finish the day a little earlier to get back home.

    Reply
  2. According to my wife, the serum helps with her tummy as our baby grows. She said previously, her skin itched a lot as it stretched with the pregnancy. With Mederma, her skin has become elastic and adjusts well.

    Reply
  3. Some would disagree, Weston A. Price talks about going 2-3 years between pregnancies giving your body time to recoup, heal, and replenish the nutrients taken from mom during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Also just because you’re breastfeeding doesn’t mean you can’t get pregnant, and likewise just because you get pregnant doesn’t mean you can’t still nurse your baby. I know several people who have had their children very close together and nurse both, called tandem nursing.

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  4. Can the damage be undone? I am nursing my third and last child and in my mid thirties. She is two years old and I plan to gradually wean as she is ready. I Plan to changed my diet as soon as possible to included tons of health fats. How long does it take before a mom sees a difference in skin elasticity?

    Reply
      • Well that’s not a very helpful answer! Yes there r ways to reverse the damage, such as diet change, quit wearing a bra (new studies have shown they cause sagging not prevent it), essential oils, etc. of course these methods won’t be as quick or dramatic of a change as surgery, but there are options that can at least improve sagging.

        Reply
  5. Hi Everyone!

    I am in full favor of breastfeeding and went thru hell for it (and I would do it again). Unfortunately, I had to wean quickly because of health issues and I am wondering how long it takes for the breast tissue to change into non-lactationg tissue. Not so much for how they look but for breast health, my tongue tied baby did a number on them. Im a first time mom and I was wondering if anyone with more experience could share some insight with me. It has been 3 weeks since I had to wean.

    Thanks!

    Reply
  6. Always wanted to know why my breasts are full and perky as always post children. I breastfed twins for 20mths and was late thirties. I could not understand everyone saying boobs flat and saggy. Thanks now I know it was because I delayed weaning. If more ladies knew that they would probably reconsider weaning.

    Reply
    • That’s not always the case, my boobs did not stay full and perky. They are saggy now after breastfeeding my 14 month old. I’m thinking its because I stopped wearing underwire push up bras and switched to easy sports bras or bralettes. Which are easier to pull out and feed my baby.

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  7. Well, I would never breast feed my son until he’s 4 y/o.
    I did it for 3 months and I think that I’ll never get the breast I had before.
    Before pregnancy, they were a cup bigger than after breastfeeding, but I don’t mind now, because it was the most beautiful experience.
    I ate lots of veggies, meat too, cheese but overall it was quite healthy. After delivery, I weighted less than before getting pregnant. I had very few fat left and struggled a lot to gain fat.
    It was all going in the milk.
    My son is 12 months now and my breast is saggy and ugly. THat’s part of it.

    Reply
    • Why would you never feed your son til he’s 4? I’m not criticising your choices but 4 years is much closer to our biological weaning age that 3 months.

      Reply
      • There is absolutely no evidence to support that claim, period. We are not living in the stone ages – things are different now.

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  8. Pingback: How To Avoid Droopy Breasts After The Breastfeeding Journey | Hot Mama Talks

  9. I find this article to be very retarded and not modern are even about a working woman . Feeding a child until he/she is four make no sense it will not help anything .

    Reply
    • Breastfeeding for multiple years will not help the corporate, military industrial complex but it certainly will help your child be healthier than without, my kids get breastfed until they are 3 & 1/2 or so. Remember what all these working moms are working for, do not loose sight of the forest for the trees (is it your own family that you will sacrifice for or a boss who could and would replace you in a heartbeat?).

      Reply
      • Sean, that all sounds nice and dandy, but what about women who HAVE to work? I’m pregnant with my son and I am most definitely going to breastfeed, but I may only get at the least 6 weeks off from work after I have my baby, and I won’t be able to breastfeed as much when I go back to work. I would love to breastfeed my baby until he’s at least 2 or more, as I know how beneficial it can be, especially if you breast feed even longer (even up to 5 years or more). We can’t afford to live only off of my baby’s father’s income, even if he gets another job, and I have to go back to work to help keep food on the table and a roof over our heads, and not to mention be able to afford everything that comes with a child. I’m not sitting here trying to sacrifice my family for my boss, but how will my child live the best life possible if mommy and daddy can’t afford to provide the essentials? The only way we’ll make it and be OK is if I get my butt back to work. It’s great that you can stay home and breastfeed your children until they are 3 1/2,but not everyone has that luxury. The best option I see is getting a pump and having my baby bottle fed with my breast milk, although I would love to continue with the actual act of breastfeeding. I suppose that my child will still be getting all of the benefits of breast milk that way, so that’s what matters.

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  10. I can tell you from experience that this article is nonsense. It is written by someone who is seriously pro breast feeding and is willing to lie to you to make you do it (and for a long time – breat feeding to 4 years old! Give me a break!)

    Breast feeding will destroy your breasts. That’s a fact. With my first child I was unable to breast feed (I had a load of milk, she just wouldn’t drink), and even though they shrank back down pretty quickly (against the advice of this article), they were basically just as they were before the pregnancy.

    For my second pregnancy, I breast fed until my son was 1. It was clear after a few months of breast feeding that my breasts would never be the same again, and that’s what happened. They are smaller than before and they are saggy.

    I’m not here to say don’t breast feed, but you should know the real truth and not let articles like this delude you.

    Reply
    • Agree with your comment 100% . I was also surprise how many people agree with the nonsense about 4 years breastfeeding .

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    • Well, I have been breastfeeding my children for over 7 years now. (Oldest one has been weaned for years, youngest one is almost 5 and almost weaned). My breasts are not as perky as they were before kids. I didn’t expect them to be. Nothing is as perky as it was 8 years ago. However, my breasts are no smaller than they were beforehand and if anything, they’re bigger. They’re not saggy.
      A lot of it comes down to genetics – and as mentioned – diet but also age.
      Pregnancy in itself is what usually does the damage. Your milk will come in and your breasts will swell whether you plan to breastfeed or not.

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    • pure nonsense really,4 years breastfeeding?whose tradition? those years like in my country people will give birth to 10 kids meaning one breastfeed for 5 months then get pregnant again or one year,modern times who will walk around smelling milk for 4 years while tutu can eat,talk and chose what to eat? and for your breast to go back to normal after a long time spent breastfeeding you will take maybe 5 years or more ive seen people who breatfed for long. so good luck waiting for your breast to become firm after 4 years breastfeeding.

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    • Yes, let’s be honest & let women make well informed choices!! I breastfeed both my kids & after the first child, who drank from the tap for a year, I lost almost a full cup size & some shape but I was actually very happy with the change because I had been a D+ cup prior to pregnancy & actually enjoyed the smaller C/D size. After my second child I lost almost another full cup size & was now down to a standard C cup size which in itself doesn’t bother me at all. What does bother me significantly is the shape. I am an personal trainer by profession & have always exercised & been healthy & eaten well so that has nothing to do with it. Simply put, the breast tissue that grew as a teen to cover my DD cup size is now covering a C cup size & the result is way too much skin for the now-smaller underlying mammory glands & frankly my breasts look like withered balloons. It does not in anyway fit the rest of my well toned body & its really depressing. While they did perk up slightly over the year after stopping breastfeeding they are still quite droopy & nothing but surgery can change that. I still would have breast fed my kids, it was a great bonding experience… but I would definitely have NOT breasfed as long and I would have been much more careful to wean super slowly! LET”S LET WOMEN MAKE INFORMED CHOICES!!!

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  11. 2-4 years? I’m sorry but I think if a child is at the age that they should be able to at least form simple sentences they are too old to be breast fed. I mean what are you doing to do, have a conversation with your kid between it’s sips. *suck suck* “Mommy I want a puppy” *suck suck suck* “You have to ask your daddy. OWW don’t bite!” “Sorry mommy” *suck suck* Ummm…… No thank you!

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  12. 2-4 years? I’m sorry but I think if a child is at the age that they should be able to at least form simple sentences they are too old to be breast fed. I mean what are you doing to do, have a conversation with your kid between it’s sips. *suck suck* “Mommy I want a puppy” *suck suck suck* “You have to ask your daddy. OWW don’t bite!” “Sorry mommy” *suck suck* Ummm…… No thank you!

    Reply
    • Thats what i am saying most 4 year old start school and can talk pretty well and it also look gross when a child can eat solid food still breastfeeding with all its tooth .

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    • Since when does human milk become bad for the child just because they can talk? That is pure ignorance. American people is the only people in the world that have a problem with breastfeeding. Breast milk is way healthier than cows milk as long as mom isn’t eating processed junk all the time. And Breast milk does not just all of a sudden become unhealthy for a child just because he or she is old enough for solid foods or able to talk.

      Reply
    • This si ridiculous. I think that our American Society is the only society that has such a problem with breastfeeding. Do you know that there are many other countries in the world where it is normal to breastfeed your child for a few years? Multiple countries in South America do that. Just because your child is talking doesn’t mean that he’s still not getting all of the amazing benefits of breast milk. It’s not like you’re going to breastfeed the child all the time when they are 4, but there’s nothing wrong with a breastfeed maybe at night before bed. It’s only weird to us because in American Society we see everything as so taboo. If you were raised in another part of the world where this is normal you would have to issues with this at all. To each his own, I respect your choice, but don’t criticize other people for making a decision that actually further benefits the child.

      Reply
  13. Its sad so many young women are consumed by vanity to the point of deciding not to nourish their children with their own breastmilk – nature’s most perfect food. It reflects strongly our cultural ideas that breasts are for entertainment or attraction, sex basically. No, we do not have breasts for men’s benefit but for our children’s benefit.

    Also sad is that these women are misguided. The ‘sag’ is not caused by breastfeeding, regardless of how long or how often. It is part of the effect of the pregnancy hormones. Other contributing factors are pre-pregnancy size and the use of hormonal contraceptives. Not all women will get a sag or droop. Nursing does not contribute at all.

    Sarah’s diet and weaning advice is absolutely right on for mom’s and baby’s nutritional benefit. My last baby is my healthiest and has had the benefit of the most traditional diet I’ve consumed. This is despite a maternal age when people say pregnancy and breastfeeding isn’t healthy!

    Reply
  14. The write-up has confirmed beneficial to myself.
    It’s really informative and you are naturally very knowledgeable in
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    Reply
  15. I wish I had known this before I nursed both my daughters. I nursed for almost 4 years straight, the first one for 26 months and she weaned a month after the second one and the second one weaned herself at 19 months. Mine are so saggy and despressing to look at. I have recently made a big overall to diet and wish I had done it much sooner, not only for this, but other reasons!

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  16. Chinese women are only allowed to have one child. How long is the average baby nursed in China? My uneducated guess is not long because the moms all have to work, most likely can’t afford a pump, and do you suppose the work conditions allow time for pumping? Dear me. Better example please. Super sag here and simply don’t mind!

    Reply
    • Many Chinese women still have more than one. They simply pay the fine. Or they travel out of the country to have their second child there.
      And with regards to their breastfeeding duration, I honestly don’t know. But I’m not going to jump to any conclusions based on my limited knowledge. I’m guessing though that there are vast differences between city and rural people, different social classes etc.

      Reply
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  18. I wasn’t eating well when pregnant with my first, and I got stretch marks on my breasts. After weaning him at four years, they aren’t as perky as they used to be, but not pancakes, either. I find that most interesting–about the gradual weaning. When I was a new mom, I was planning to breastfeed for at least two years. I was with a group of other women, mostly mothers, and they were talking about extended breastfeeding and saying things like, “Can you imagine what that would do to your breasts??” Now I know what I’m going to say next time I hear that. :)

    Reply
  19. I think the key point missing here is….so what if your breasts sag? isn’t it worth it to nourish your children with breastmilk? it is awful that mothers or anyone would discourage breastfeeding for such a superficial reason. i guess this is unsaid because it is just understood….i hope so anyway!

    Reply
    • Carly, I totally agree. Although, I thought it was mentioned or implied by someone else. I feel no matter what happens to a woman’s breasts from nourishing a child it is totally worth it.

      Reply
    • I absolutely agree! I don’t believe that breastfeeding is the sole reason for saggy breasts, its also poor nutrition, and of course the main factor is pregnancy hormones but also somewhat hereditary. I think its terrible that a woman could be so selfish to choose what her body looks like over the health of her child. It’s downright wrong, and those women should be ashamed of themselves for being so selfish and self centered. Now I’m all about keeping up with my body and all but there are ways to do that with a healthy diet and proper exercise, and some women may go to the extreme and get a boob job and that’s fine too, but to sacrifice your child’s health over how your boobs look?? I just don’t understand those women.

      Reply
  20. Do you mind if I share this on my blog for my birth website? Giving you credit of course for writing it. I just want my clients to have access to it. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist September 8, 2012 at 2:07 pm

      Sure Kasey, that is fine. If you could link back to the original article on this site, that would be greatly appreciated.

      Reply
  21. Pingback: Pregnancy and (not) decline of breast

  22. Sarah, I’m curious as to why you said that? No, I’m not a lactation “specialist” unless you count that I nursed 4 kiddos. I’ve always kind of felt the same way, but never said anything since everyone seems to think they know more than moms who were successful breastfeeders. I was in the “meeting” for breastfeeding moms, and the lactospecialist I could tell right off hated me. I wasn’t the only one to notice this. We realized why later. At my age I was able to go around and help many of the new moms, verbally instruct them through the process of latching etc. and really a lot of it is just giving them the confidence and moral support they might not be getting at home. Well, the lacto specialist was trying to set them up with all kinds of equipment. I went to one more meeting to confirm my suspicions. Yep, I feel totally confident in my thoughts. It made me very sad, and I feel a lot of moms were not successful due to using a tube to feed their infant. If your familiar with any of the equipment used, it can be a godsend for those who really do need it. For the majority though, I think it’s a hindrance.

    Reply
  23. Don’t the lactation consultants that think they have the market cornered on breastfeeding and are the end all and be all of information about nursing just drive you bonkers???? Sheesh people. You DON’T know everything .. be open to learning something new once in awhile!

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  24. My baby is 20 months & still nursing, we both enjoy it….Before I had him & breastfed I too was afraid of my breasts becoming saggy & deflated, but now I realize I dont care! My breasts are still beautiful, my husband loves them & they have comforted & fed & nurtured my baby well, so what if they arent as full & perky as they were before pregnancy, they arent as full and perky as when I was 18 either, bodies change, its part of life.

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  25. After being pregnant and/or breastfeeding for the last nine years, I don’t think any amount of saturated fat is going to help me. :)

    Reply
  26. I have three children that are three and a half years apart. I was either pregnant or breastfeeding for seven years straight. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that I would take for that experience–not even twenty year old breasts! I must say that the breastfeeding did not really do that much. Only when I neared 50 did gravity do its nasty job! If you think bottle feeding will stave that off, you had better think again!

    Reply
  27. There are cultures where sagging breasts are a status symbol. This shows that you have nurtured the community. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could celebrate all those stretch marks, etc. that come with motherhood. Signs of our greatest transformation as women! Look what we can do – make and sustain life!

    Reply
    • Thank you, wonderful comment! I moved to South America when I got pregnant to raise my daughter in a society that embraces just this as well as nursing 2-4 years is normal and I don’t have to hide my daughter from the world when she is nursing. Some of the comments here really make me sad.

      Reply
  28. This topic is a concern for many. I’m 55 and still as perky as ever. I nursed 4 kids. After nursing first I would “deflate”, and was down to a B. Then they gradually came back to their normal D. Yeah, they were much bigger during nursing. At the time, weighing 90lbs. with a humongous chest made for sore shoulders.
    I thought it might be genetics, but that hasn’t held up in this family. I seem to be the only one so far with minimal stretch marks, low enough to not be seen. And the perkiness. Still waiting on my youngest daughter to see what happens, she deflated, but seems to be coming back. I’ve pondered this off and on as I wanted to be able to help my daughters with this issue. Wearing a bra, which is something I did when I was that large. Exercise and eating right.
    As one girl said, maybe it’s just luck of the draw. Either way, I would never have not nursed my kids no matter what.

    Reply
  29. Great post, Sarah. Nutrition affects everything. And learning traditional mothering skills is such a boon for both mamas and kiddos. But I think it’s sad that we have a culture of women more concerned about their looks than their children’s health. Looks fade…it’s inevitable. Creating strong bodies, hence strong futures, for our kids is priceless.

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  30. If I do not eat dairy due to intolerance, am I getting the same benefit taking ghee (butter oil). I am currently 5 months into breastfeeding…

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  31. I really have to quibble with the phrase “ideally between 2-4 years” is the right time for weaning. If you read Katherine Dettwyler’s chapter (#2) in Breastfeeding: Biocultural Perspectives, you’ll see that there are many ways to measure the right time to wean. Some are cultural and some are biological (as compared to non-human primates).

    Katie, IBCLC

    Reply
  32. Wearing a wireless “sleep bra” from pregnancy onward helps a lot too. I’ve been either pregnant or nursing for the last six years (two babies in that time) and I’ve come through more or less intact. I think a big part of it is that I’ve been sleeping in a bra the whole time. I’m sure genetics must play a role too.

    Reply
  33. Would you get additional benefits from arachidonicacid if it absorbed through your skin as well as in your diet? Like rubbing egg yolks on your breasts? Haha sounds ridiculous but I’d love some opinions!

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  34. There’s lots of helpful info in your articles, and sometimes in your reader comments. However when I try to copy keywords to do further research, I’m not able to – unless I turn off javascript for your site. What a friggin pain – there’s plenty of other sites out there that offer similar advise, without placing unnecessary restrictions that inconvenience readers. Bummer, because I rather enjoyed the articles I read while here, except not being able to copy search phrases – leaving this site, byeeeeeee Ms Anal-Retentive-Control-Freak!

    Reply
  35. Such a timely article! I had a nightmare about this a few nights ago… I think it was brought on by wearing a bra less around the house. :) Implementing the suggestions in this article will help, but I think there is more to it than just diet and wearing time. BUT, I am more than happy to hear all I can about how the choices I am making now are setting me up to not live out my nightmare of thin floppy tissue hanging down to my bellybutton! Hooray for eggs fried in butter for breakfast every morning!

    Reply
    • Really, your boobs are going to do what they want, whether you nurse or not. It’s mentioned in one of the comments. Who knows why. We all can just do the best we can, take care of our whole body. I wore bras because I always heard of tissue breakdown from the weight. It seemed to make sense at the time, so I wore a nighttime bra also. Although no way do I now. I figure at 55, I’m giving them the go ahead to sag if they want. I would rather be comfy. Although breaking my ribs/torn cartiledge did put me back into a bra again for awhile. Yeah, boogie boarding can do that.

      Reply
  36. I like your premise, but it took me 2 years to lose 100 pounds via diet and exercise and I have loose skin like you wouldn’t believe. I know I am going to have big time sagging when all is said and done. Unfortunately not a lot i can do to overcome genetics…

    Reply
    • Correction: more than likely EPIgenetics. The vitamin K2 load during gestation on your maternal line and during your major growth phases will have a lot to do with the elasticity of your skin and circulatory system. That’s going to determine your risk for stretch marks and vericose veins. THIS is why these things “run in families”, NOT because of DNA.

      Reply
  37. Amanda Wayne via Facebook September 5, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    I’m breastfeeding my 8 week old son, thanks for the advice! You’ve helped me a lot through my pregnancy!

    Reply
  38. no one is arguing that Ptiosis isn’t diet related nor are they arguing whether it occurs. It’s just NOT caused by breastfeeding. The stretching happens (if it is going to happen) during pregnancy. Perpetuating the myth that the breastfeeding causes it is a lie.

    Reply
  39. I think its important to note that many young women these days are experiencing saggy breast syndrome BEFORE having any children at all … women in their early 20’s even. This is of course clearly diet related. It takes some months to get these healthy whole saturated fats and arachidonic acid properly incorporated into the majority of skin cell membranes so this is not an overnight thing and diet change should be implemented and lowfat dogma abandoned long before pregnancy is attempted.

    Reply
  40. I probably am not your typical mom. I have breastfed seven babies. My last one, now seven, was born when I was 45. I had her, and four of the others, at home. My breasts have not gotten saggy, they have gotten smaller! When I lose the baby weight, I lose the boobs too. I have to say, though, that I think genetics plays a big role in all this. I am tall and naturally thin, and pregnancy has not changed that, (Obviously not my height!!)

    Reply
  41. I wish I would have known this sooner! I’m 22 and have a 17 month old boy. I stopped BFing at around 6 months because of lack of support and supply. Now, the breasts are saggy and I’m so unhappy and uncomfortable with my breast appearance. I feel like I have 60 year old boobs :( no offense to anyone!!! I’m scared to ever have a second child because I don’t want my boobs to get even more saggy-er. Ugh!

    Reply
    • I went from a C to a G with my first, nursed 17 months, lost 40 pounds and could have put my breasts through a mail slot (though they weren’t saggy, just empty). Now I’m very pregnant and back to a full G cup. Life is full of second chances! Nurse the next one with the experience you’ve gained with the first.

      Reply
  42. Sarah Newton Phipps via Facebook September 5, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    What makes me sad, is that we even care at all! Implementing positive diet changes to promote overall health is great, but I am not doing it so that my boobs are more acceptable to anyone! We need to get over what shape our bodies are compared to others and focus on our health. Mine have been saggy since the time they developed, just like my moms and very unlike my sisters. Personally, I think that we are just all shaped differently! Despite being saggy, I have nursed 4 children a total of 110 months and counting.

    Reply
  43. Pingback: Avoiding Saggy Breast Syndrome After Nursing – The Healthy Home … | Having A Healthy Baby

  44. Genevieve Pazdan via Facebook September 5, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    I would also add GELATIN, BONE BROTHS are huge in keeping skin elastic! Thanks thehealthyhomeeconomist for writing such a great post!

    Reply
  45. The value of the Nutrition I have given my children outweighs any amount of saggy breasts I will have. I’ve nursed 4 babies and I’m still going strong with my 15 month old. I am way more concerened with providing the absolute best nutrition to my children than the shape of my breasts!

    Reply
  46. I didn’t worry about – my boobs are between me and my husband and no one else so I’m not worried about them doing something that they were DESIGNED to do after nursing a baby…I nursed both of mine until they were over a year old. And they never got baby food, formula, etc. ever. Both of them are big tall men today at almost 40 years old..and the youngest has five kids who were all nursed, too…number six baby is due TODAY. :-)

    Reply
  47. I have had this exact experience. I was a B before babies, had 3 babies 18 and 15 months apart, had all kinds of hormone issues/lost my milk at 5 months (due, I’m sure, to the politically correct, low fat diet I followed), and then was left with less than and A cup and so saggy. :(
    I’m pregnant again with my 4th (and likely last) baby. I’ve been following a nourishing traditions diet for about a year. I eat lots of butter, raw milk, and bone broth. Is there any way that I can keep this from happening again???? Or is the damage done?

    Reply
  48. This totally makes sense, although I agree it may not work across the board for everyone. However, in my experience… Years ago, I was eating the SAD, extremely low fat, and NO saturated fat. I had stretch marks on my knees and lower back simply from normal growth. I am tall and thin. So naturally, I expected to experience sever stretch marks with my first pregnancy. Well, I had previously been eating WAPF diet for a few years and guess what? NOT ONE SINGLE STRETCH MARK. Not one. Anywhere. Breasts, thighs, abdomen, anywhere. So, I’m a believer!

    Reply
  49. Pamela Tolkkinen via Facebook September 5, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    Totally agree! I’ve nursed 6 babies (soon to be 7) and haven’t had the ‘form’ problem only too much growth, lol.

    Reply
  50. I have to say that in my own personal experience I have nursed 3 boys all 8lb..15oz-9lb.3 oz. when born. I started out a barely B-cup and 3 days after delivery had a D-CUP and then some! I would inflate and deflate 5-7 times a day and nursed for a year. I am now barely size A and I did gradual weaning at a year. Maybe I should have waited longer, but I just think my skin could not hold up to the massive stretching that would happen 5-7 times daily as my boys consumed a massive amount of milk. My pediatrician even questioned my honesty when I told her I only nursed the boys without supplementing formula due to the fact that my boys were 23lbs at 6 months old! :)

    Reply
  51. Emily Heldt via Facebook September 5, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    Being able to SEE the ptosis during pregnancy doesn’t usually happen, thehealthyhomeeconomist – it is afterwards. Breastfeeding just delays being able to SEE the changes that have already occurred. More articles from the same studies http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21599854/ns/health-womens_health/t/breast-feeding-isnt-such-drag-breasts/ http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7082473.stm http://kellymom.com/blog-post/new-study-droopingsagging-breasts-not-caused-by-breastfeeding/.

    Reply
  52. Krystle Spielman via Facebook September 5, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    The bigger they are, the more gravity has to pull down on regardless of pregnancy, nursing, or never having children. Age will take it’s toll, just like wrinkles – you get them whether or not you have children.

    Reply
  53. How are you supposed to nurse for 2 years + if you aren’t lucky enough to be a stay-at-home mom? COuld you write some tips on weaning when maternity leave ends after 3 months??

    Reply
    • Instead of weaning I would suggest pumping to build up a freezer stash for when you go back to work and are away from baby but there is no need to fully wean. Many babies will reverse cycle, breastfeed more at night to be close to mama since she is away during the day. If needed, supplement with donor milk from a source you feel comfortable with (Human Milk 4 Human Babies) or raw milk formula if you do not respond well to a pump. Hygeia makes the best breastpump out there, (beware of Medela, they are known for mold growth in the pump and are an unethical company openly defying the WHO Breastfeeding Code)

      Reply
      • Even if you formula feed when you are away from baby during the day, you can still nurse in the evening and on the weekends. The breasts will adjust to the schedule and be capable of producing milk as long as your child is demanding it.

        Reply
    • I also had no changes to my breasts before the baby was born. I did not breastfeed. My milk came in anyway 3 days later, making my A/B size breasts into D size. About a week later when all the milk went away, I was left with saggy breasts. Therefore it was not breastfeeding that did it, as I formula fed. It was a result of having a baby, aka pregnancy.

      Reply
  54. I definitely think this is some great advice! While I only nursed mine to about a year, I followed all the other guidelines. While not quite the same as before, my boobs are in pretty good shape (pun intended lol). I think age of the mother has a lot to do with it too. I was 23 when my first son was born, 25 when my second was born, and I’ll be almost 27 when my third is born this month.

    Reply
  55. Wow amazing stuff as always. It’s funny how people will disregard common sense as to eating real food. The other sad thing is how we look at breastfeeding in our society. People are actually grossed out about this act of nature. I’m sure by educating enough people we can change this perspective. btw my last blog post also has a breastfeeding baby pic within it haha http://reallyhealthynow.com/what-were-we-meant-to-eat/

    Reply
  56. I read somewhere that it isn’t breast feeding that causes breasts to droop……….it is pregnancy. Just going through a pregnancy changes your breasts and perhaps drooping breasts is a normal part of having a baby even if you don’t breast feed.

    Reply
  57. I can see how weaning may impact…as breasts often go back to their pre-pregnancy size by around 16 months of breastfeeding. This has happened to me both times, so I can see that of you stopped prior to that time, that they would have to suddenly deflate rather than gradually get smaller. But, I also agree with Ashley Rozenberg’s info that pregnancy does impact breasts…whether you breastfeeding or not.

    Reply
  58. Sounds great in theory, but I’m not sure it actually holds true for everyone. Have eaten better and better with each pregnancy and have never weaned abruptly or early, and still am saggy.

    Reply
  59. I went from a size B to a D, I’ve been nursing for 3.5 yrs and they are saggy, I hate it! but I love what I am providing for my children. I also don’t believe that its only breastfeeding that caused it, but just the fact that they increased in size and swelled from hormones. I also eat ltos of saturated fats.

    Reply
  60. Emily Heldt via Facebook September 5, 2012 at 11:55 am

    Perpetuating myths like these can be yet another reason why women decide not to breastfeed. The changes come from pregnancy, not breastfeeding.

    Reply
  61. I have a 5 month old I am nursing right now. I was a size A before I got pregnant and the rapid growth to a double D resulted in stretch marks on my breasts. Thankfully, I eat a lot of homemade bone broths, coconut oil, and other saturate fats so hopefully they won’t get saggy as well. I doubt I’ll be able to nurse until my daughter is 4 because I’ll probably be pregnant with my second sweet babe before then 😉 However I would like to add that our family eat’s a plenty of saturated fats and I’m just a few lbs shy of my pre-pregnancy weight! I haven’t had to do crazy workouts that I thought were going to be necessary to get my old body back.

    Reply
    • it’s totally possible to tandem nurse, you don’t have to wean your daughter to get pregnant or to keep nursing her through pregnancy.

      Reply
      • I nursed one while pregnant and then 2 after the birth….. totally do-able, plenty of milk for all — no need to wean the first!

        Reply
  62. I think there are so many factors that go into how we age (and really that’s the bottom line, sagging is part of the aging process) that not nursing out of fear of gravity would be a terrible disservice to yourself. Eat well, get adequate rest & exercise, stay hydrated & nurse your babies because among other things the lowered risk of breast cancer will also improve the look of your breasts. A million years ago I was a dancer while nursing & after 5 years of nursing, my breasts looked great- I was also ages 20-27 at the time. Now nearing 40, 6 pregnancies & 15 years lactating they look good, but of course not nearly as perky as they were a decade or more ago. I look at pictures of my mother at the same age- she was a mother of 1 who breastfed for about a year, and we look pretty similar to me. If all of these years nursing altered what my breasts would have looked like, it was pretty insignificant in the big picture.

    Reply
  63. After 4 kids and 20 plus years of nursing –I also feel it is the number of pregnancies that may account for the sag–but I am not a pro bra wearer either.

    Reply
  64. Breastfeeding doesn’t cause sagging. Being Pregnant does. I really wish people would stop perpetuating this myth. The breasts swell regardless of whether you PLAN on nursing anyway. I would be really great if you would mention that in this blog. I feel like even though you’re trying to help with advice for preventing it, which is great; pregnant and lactating women DEFINITELY need some help in the diet department but saying the sagging happens after the fact is flat out wrong and sabotaging.

    “A study published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal found that the number of past pregnancies had a more significant impact on the shape of the breasts than breastfeeding. The researchers concluded that ptosis after pregnancy was caused not by breastfeeding but by hormone regression and increased strain on breast skin from the engorgement of pregnancy. The article states:

    ‘A history of breastfeeding was not found to be associated with a greater degree of breast ptosis in patients presenting for postpregnancy aesthetic breast surgery. Age and cigarette smoking, both of which are associated with a loss of skin elasticity, were found to be positive predictors for breast ptosis, as were larger prepregnancy bra cup size and number of pregnancies. Whereas breast ptosis appears to increase with each additional pregnancy, breastfeeding does not seem to worsen these effects.’ “

    Reply
  65. I think this has much to do with genetics and what size breasts you start out with before pregnancy. My mom had perky breasts till she was in her mid 50-ies. She breastfed us. I have perky breasts, even after nursing two kids for 2.5 years. I am 45. My sister had a bit more larger breast and looks more like my grandma on my dad’s side. Her breasts were droopy after the first child. But we are from Europe and we do not start to wear a bra as early as they do here and if you had perky and small breasts you did not wear a bra every day actually.

    Reply
  66. Currently nursing 1 year old. She has little to no interest in solid foods. She might eat 5 bites of fried egg yolk if it is off of my plate. One time she actually ate 1/4 of an avocado. I was shocked that she ate that much. Is there any reason to be concerned? I am trying to follow her lead but she LOVES nursing and is eating 6x a day still. All seems to be normal and healthy.

    Reply
    • My babies love nursing too and rarely ate anything before the age of one, my last baby didn’t really start solids until he was around 15 months old. All babies are different and as long as you are offering her a variety of nutrient rich foods she will become interested, all in her own time. :) Just make sure that your diet is the best in can possibly be.

      Reply
      • Thank you for the encouragement, Megan. This baby is so different from our first 2! She is blessing that we waited and prayed for 8 years to get. In that time we have dramatically changed how we eat. In a way it feels like the first time all over again since we are doing things differently.

        Reply
    • Sarah, our third baby has been like you describe. She’s 19 mos now and eating more but didn’t really become interested in food until 14 mos or so. Even now she’ll still skip meals once and a while. Following her lead and nursing on cue is perfect. You’re doing just what she needs!

      Reply
    • My daughter never liked eating until she turned 18 months old. She eats like a champ. I never insisted or pushed her. Wait and see, they change a lot! And try to eat by saying yumm, hmmm, she will come around and eat:)

      Reply
  67. Wish I would have known this!! But if what Grace said is true then that’s why mine are droopy & quite ugly now! I lose my baby weight very rapidly after baby, so fast that I feel frail & this second time around, I’ve eaten healthier than most people i know! Is there any way to make already stretch mark, saggy ones heal up or strengthen?

    Reply
    • doing this would be PAINFUL for me, unless I had my breasts bound tight to my body, and wouldn’t that cancel out the benefit of doing it?

      Reply
  68. Breastfeeding doesn’t cause sagging. Being Pregnant does. I really wish people would stop perpetuating this myth. The breasts swell regardless of whether you PLAN on nursing anyway. I would be really great if you would mention that in this blog. I feel like even though you’re trying to help with advice for preventing it, which is great; pregnant and lactating women DEFINITELY need some help in the diet department but saying the sagging happens after the fact is flat out wrong and sabotaging.

    A study published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal found that the number of past pregnancies had a more significant impact on the shape of the breasts than breastfeeding. The researchers concluded that ptosis after pregnancy was caused not by breastfeeding but by hormone regression and increased strain on breast skin from the engorgement of pregnancy. The article states:

    “A history of breastfeeding was not found to be associated with a greater degree of breast ptosis in patients presenting for postpregnancy aesthetic breast surgery. Age and cigarette smoking, both of which are associated with a loss of skin elasticity, were found to be positive predictors for breast ptosis, as were larger prepregnancy bra cup size and number of pregnancies. Whereas breast ptosis appears to increase with each additional pregnancy, breastfeeding does not seem to worsen these effects.”

    Reply
    • Thanks so much for posting this research Ashley. I’ve heard this myth about sagging breasts a lot and am glad to know a resource to refer people to for accurate information.

      Reply
  69. Brittany Blankenship via Facebook September 5, 2012 at 11:07 am

    I’m nursing #3. Number 1 was not BF, #2 weaned at 15mo when I was pregnant, and #3 is going strong at 18mo. Will this possibly help repair the “empty” look to breasts? Or only prevent it? Luckily I’m rather small chested so it’s not a huge issue, but I’d love to be confident while naked, once again. LOL

    Reply
  70. Jennifer Barborka via Facebook September 5, 2012 at 11:06 am

    I’m sure that will work for some, but my milk came in so fast for my first kid there was no hope. My size is still the same, but they aren’t where they used to be and I did everything that’s on your list. Underwires work wonders. :)

    Reply
  71. I wonder what role breast size has in this? You mention traditional Chinese women not having drooping breasts, but they usually start out with small breasts I thought.
    What about when people start out with larger breasts? Scandinavian countries?

    I’ve read that if you lose weight quickly while you’re breastfeeding regardless of when you wean, you’ll have more drooping.

    Reply
  72. Jessica Stanton via Facebook September 5, 2012 at 11:00 am

    Mine just went away. From a B before kids to double letters during my third pregnancy. To just barely an A currently. (My boys are all less than 40 months apart between my oldest and youngest. I didn’t loose any breast mass between pregnancies.)

    Reply
  73. Cassidy Langford Allison via Facebook September 5, 2012 at 11:00 am

    I agree Anastasia; I would venture to say that the majority of women experience some degree of saggy boobs regardless of diet. My family is pretty strict WAPF-style eaters, and I am currently nursing my 3.5yo and my 16mo, and guess what, my boobs sag. So what! I am proud of the comfort and nourishment they have provided my children. How about we work toward empowering women and embracing the changes motherhood and age bring!!

    Reply
  74. Guggie L Daly via Facebook September 5, 2012 at 10:57 am

    Regulating hormones might be helpful, too. Hormone changes during pregnancy are what allegedly cause the damage. Definitely already done to me long before I began breastfeeding. But I know I have skin issues anyways.

    Reply
  75. Shannon Winston via Facebook September 5, 2012 at 10:57 am

    I weaned at the 6-8 month mark-so “my bad” on that one. I wonder if this can be corrected by “doing it right” in subsequent pregnancies? Any thoughts?

    Reply
  76. Susan Adams Oliff via Facebook September 5, 2012 at 10:57 am

    Mine aren’t saggy or deflated, granted I started out with perkier than average ones since I had had a reduction nearly 20 years prior. I don’t remember exactly what all I ate but I ate whatever I could, minus the long list of stuff that made my son thrash, buck, and spit up volumes. Weaning was baby lead, and happened at 20 months.

    Reply
  77. I eat/ate saturated fats from organic sources and weaned and will wean at 2 and I still have breasts that droop …… as much as I’d like to believe that these things will prevent it, I’m afraid it has not for me. But, just as grey hair and wrinkles are a part of life, so are droopy boobs, big deal.

    Reply
    • I’m the same way. I eat right but I don’t have the breast shape I did before and I have the worst stretch marks I’ve ever seen. I have nothing against this article and eating properly, but from my experience, it’s not a black and white issue. Bad skin seems to run in my family. I had a friend pregnant at the same time as me; she ate all the wrong things and has skin like a rubberband and no stretch marks. Some of us are just blessed with learning to accept the changes in our bodies :)

      Reply
      • Yes!! Me too. Great diet, lots of fat, rub coconut oil on my breasts, droopy as all get out.

        And what about those pictures of traditional African women who have verrrry droopy breasts???

        Reply
        • Hype is hype – There is no diet or breastfeeding technique including when the infant is weened that will prevent nature from doing what it do. Every body and breast is different and will respond differently. Breasts that are prone to drooping will droop no matter what – So too with vaginal stretching during birth and not returning to “form” after birth.
          Motherhood is wrought with wonderful sacrifice. If your husband can’t appreciate all that you are and all that you do – then that is a topic for another thread (even if it is not about pleasing him).
          Always and forever, your kids will appreciate your sacrifices – my mom is my hero – and being a twin I had to share the pair darn it :(

          Reply
    • The World Health Organization says that across the globe, the average weaning age is between 2 to 7 years. Breastfeeding for 2 years or more is fine and totally normal. In fact, breast milk changes to adapt to your child’s needs, no matter their age. It truly is amazing!

      Reply
      • 2-7 yrs? LoL! I couldnt see my son coming home from 1st grade and his snack is sucking on my breast. No sweetie…no!
        His friends would come over and are told to wait a couple of minutes before they can all go outside and play b/c he’s busy suckling. No way! Not normal.

        Reply
  78. Amy Gault via Facebook September 5, 2012 at 10:53 am

    I wish I had known about all of this 5 babies ago. Thankfully, with my 1 year old, we’ve had a diet full of saturated fat, and all the others have weaned around 18 months, very gradually.

    Reply
  79. Lynsey Atkinson Kramer via Facebook September 5, 2012 at 10:51 am

    this is very encouraging to me! i was under the impression that the longer you nurse, the more saggy your breasts become. i’ve nursed all four of mine past the year mark. my baby is girl is 19 months and still nursing strong. thanks for the info!

    Reply
    • My son weaned at 5 and my daughter at age 4 so between them I was consecutively nursing for 8 1/2 years. I started eating traditionally about when my son was 3 and at 42 I still do not have sagging breasts but I do think an adequate yoga practice has helped alot. Push ups and other exercises for my pectoral muscles I believe has helped a great deal to keep thier old shape.

      Reply
      • I also wanted to add though that even if my breasts had sagged down to my navel i would do it all over again as nothing can compare not only witht he nutrition of breastmilk but with those precious bonding moments that I spent with my children during that time. Saggy breasts are a small price to pay in comparison.

        Reply
        • I think sagging has to do with the size of breasts. As you may know, breasts are mostly fat, and if they are big, there is no way they are going to be standing up on their own. I nursed all 4 of my kids, still nursing my almost 3 y.o. and I wouldn’t say my breasts look perky at all. :) But I really don’t care. They were made for nursing and not for other people’s appreciation.

          However, I do think that if I had adopted a full fat diet I probably wouldn’t have the stretch marks I do. Marks of beauty they are. :)

          Reply

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