When expecting, one’s belly is not the only part of the body expanding; our abdomen widens, thighs thicken, calves bulge and breasts fill out. In fact, by the end of the second trimester, breasts undergo such a significant change in size that neither pre-pregnancy clothes nor the bra fit anymore.
Typically, first-time mothers undergo a change in breast size at least twice―during pregnancy and once lactation has begun in full swing. Ideally, one size more than your current size is enough to take you till the end of the second trimester. Getting a bra two sizes larger than your current cup size will be ideal once you begin nursing. So if you are a size 36”, then a size 40” will see you through the nursing period.
There are many styles of the nursing bra in the market. It is important to look for a design that is apt for your lifestyle and mode of dressing. If the weight of the milk-filled breasts is not supported properly during nursing, it can cause back pain in the mother and also affect her nursing position.
Not investing in appropriate support wear can also cause breasts to sag, which is often blamed on the act of breastfeeding itself. Sagging is, however, attributed to other reasons:
Overall change in size of the breasts: The expansion of the cells inside the breast to twice their size, combined with accumulation of colostrum (first breast milk produced post delivery), causes enlarging and elongation of the breast during pregnancy. The breasts further increase in size when milk comes in.
Lack of proper nursing position: Many women take their breast to the baby, bending consequently. This again increases sagging. A baby should be brought to the breast, not the other way around. A good posture is important for preventing back pain and sagging of breasts in the mother and establishing a good latch for the baby.
Obesity and failure to return to pre-pregnancy weight: Returning to pre-pregnancy weight and toning loosened muscles will help get back some of the tautness of your breasts.
Just as a woman’s breasts expand during pregnancy and fill up with milk post partum, they also undergo a process of involution (shrinkage) post lactation. Once involution is over, most women find their breasts returning to their original shape and size. It is important to make note of these changes and keep investing in appropriate inner wear to see oneself through pregnancy and nursing comfortably.
Next issue: Nursing when ill