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What you can do to prevent breast sagging post pregnancy

Pregnancy and childbirth can cause pronounced changes in a women’s body – visible veins, enlarged uterus, and weight gain are all frequent physical changes that a pregnant woman may undergo.

Apart from these changes, sagging or drooping breasts is considered another inevitable norm for most pregnant and ageing women. This can be a cause for significant concern and embarrassment.

Unfortunately, there is very little you can do to combat sagging breasts or what is medically termed as ‘breast ptosis’.

These breast changes are a distressing reality for every woman at some point in their lives, young or old. Lifestyle changes and certain home remedies can, however, help to slow down the sagging process.

If droopy breasts are a concern for you, read on to find out some of the most common causes of loose breasts and what you can do to prevent excessive sagging.

What is breast ptosis or sagging of breasts?

Breast ptosis or sagging of breasts is one of the many natural bodily changes that a woman may experience with pregnancy, ageing, weight fluctuations and nursing.

According to the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), the skin surrounding the breasts loses volume and elasticity. As they stretch and lose shape and firmness, they begin to sag.

There are varying degrees of ptosis or breast sagging, including mild, moderate, significant, and unusual. The degree may be determined by an individual’s genetics, changes in body weight, and pregnancy history.

What causes breast ptosis or saggy breasts?

Saggy breasts are primarily attributed to the following causes:

  • Ageing: As women get older, the connective tissue ligaments of the breasts tend to diminish, shrink and lose elasticity. These changes make the breasts look deflated and droopy.
  • Gravity: The constant pull of gravity is another factor that can strain and pull your breasts downwards. The pull is stronger when performing high-impact exercises such as running and jumping without proper breast support.
  • Pregnancy: According to Mayo Clinic, during pregnancy, the ligaments that support a woman’s breast might stretch as it gets fuller and heavier. This stretching is often one of the common causes of breast sagging post-pregnancy.
  • Weight Gain and Weight Loss: Rapid weight gain and weight loss is another principle factor for droopy breasts as it tends to damage the elastin fibres and collagen of the breasts.
  • UV Exposure and Smoking: Carcinogens in cigarette smoke and ultraviolet rays can break down elastin and damage the skin surrounding the breasts.

In addition to this, causes of loose breasts entail low estrogen, menopause, and nutritional deficiencies. Even diseases like breast cancer or tuberculosis can also potentially accelerate the sagging process.

How do you keep your breasts from sagging post-delivery?

1. Wear a supportive bra

Wearing the right kind of bra can hold up your breasts and give it the support it needs after pregnancy. This is especially important when you exercise or perform high-impact workouts.

Neglecting to give your breasts adequate support can cause permanent damage to connective tissues of the breasts over time.

2. Feed on demand

If you want to prevent breast sagging post-pregnancy, ensure that you breastfeed on demand. Don’t keep long intervals between your feeding sessions as this may lead to engorged breasts.

Engorged breasts can not only cause the skin of your breasts to stretch, but it may also sometimes result in clogged milk ducts that could lead to a painful condition called mastitis.

If you find that your breasts feel engorged, breastfeed your baby. If your baby is not ready to nurse, pump the breast milk and freeze it for later use.

3. Stay hydrated

Staying well-hydrated helps to maintain the skin’s elasticity and slow the progression of sagging.

To keep your breast from sagging, drink at least eight glasses of water daily and steer clear of diuretics and dehydrating drinks such as alcohol, coffee, tea, and soda.

In addition to this, use a safe moisturiser to take care of the delicate tissues around your breasts.

4. Maintain an optimal weight

If you want a firm pair of breasts after delivery, don’t try to lose the baby weight too quickly. Rapid fluctuations in weight can cause elastin and collagen loss, contributing to droopy breasts.

5. Exercise and eat healthy

Regular exercise and nutritious food are imperative for perky breasts post-delivery. Fad diets and food low on nutrition can steal the skin of its elasticity and result in droopy breasts.

6. Go slow with weaning

Breastfeeding has been widely attributed as a major cause of saggy breasts. However, as indicated in a 2007 study conducted by Dr Brian Rinker and his colleagues, this is just a plain misconception.

A tip that could help tighten breasts after delivery, though, is gradual weaning. Slow or gradual weaning allows for slower involution (the shrinking of an organ to its former size) and will be less traumatic for both your breasts and your child.

7. Adopt good posture

Proper posture, especially while breastfeeding, can help you avoid sagging breasts. Use a supportive breastfeeding pillow if possible, as this can reduce a lot of unnecessary pull on the breast tissue.

8. Take cold showers

Cold showers have proven to be another effective way to improve breast shape after pregnancy.

Exercises to keep breasts from sagging

Anatomically, the breasts do not have any muscle and are principally composed of only specialized tissue and fat.

Logically, therefore, there are no exercises that can tighten or tone the breasts. Certain chest exercises can, however, help to strengthen the ligaments surrounding the breasts and improve its overall appearance.

Before trying any new physical exercise, check with your healthcare specialist.

Conclusion

Most of the remedies suggested in this article intend to improve sagging breasts after breastfeeding and delivery.

If, however, you experience premature sagging or suspect an underlying medical condition such as hormonal imbalance or breast cancer, it is worth checking with your doctor to ensure that everything is as it should be.

Detecting early signs of breast cancer or other malignant breast conditions can help your doctors provide you with timely and rapid medical care.

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Author: Dr Deepika Agarwal
Backed by over two decades of clinical experience, Dr. Deepika Aggarwal is one of the most trusted obstetricians and gynaecologists in Gurgaon. She is recognized internationally for her contributions to the field of obstetrics and gynaecology and is a member of the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, London. She specializes in high-risk pregnancies, managing recurrent pregnancy losses, endoscopic surgeries, cervical screening for cancers, and normal deliveries post-cesarean section.
 
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