There's a lot of pressure in our society for women to have perky breasts for life--walk by any magazine stand and you'll see cover models airbrushed to perfection, gorgeous cleavage and all. But the reality is breasts change over time due to gravity, weight gain (and loss), and the biggest shape shifter, pregnancy.
Your breasts are made up of glands, fat, and fibrous tissue, and each one is divided into fifteen to twenty sections, called lobes. The lobes consist of many smaller lobules that end in dozens of tiny glands. When pregnancy hormones ramp up, extra blood volume causes the tissue to swell, and the glands begin to fill up with breast milk. All of this fluid gain causes your boobs to become heavy and to potentially sag.
The best way to keep your girls up during this time is to pack away the sexy, skimpy lingerie and wear a full-coverage, supportive bra instead. "I often recommend sports bras, since they're designed to be extra supportive," says Patrick Duff, M.D., an ob-gyn at the University of Florida, Gainesville.
Some breasts will sag more than others, depending on how much they plump up. And after pregnancy, some women will be able to bounce back to their former shape, while others may feel as though their breasts are less full and more saggy than before. "This is something you don't have much control over," says Sharon Phelan, M.D., a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of New Mexico Health Science Center School of Medicine. "It all depends on the collagen and elastin in your skin, and how it responds to the extra weight of your pregnancy breasts. The more your skin stretches, the more likely you are to experience sagging." You can look at your mom and female siblings to gauge how your chest might respond, but even that isn't a very accurate predictor.
You can't change the type of skin you inherited, but you do have control over some of the other possible contributors to breast sagging, as identified by a study published in the medical journal Annals of Plastic Surgery: higher body-mass index and smoking history. Keeping your weight in check and kicking a cigarette habit early (or never starting one!) gives your knockers a better chance at avoiding the effects of gravity.
That same study found breastfeeding isn't likely to cause sagging. So before you start to feel down about your boobs possibly heading south, consider this: Your pregnancy breasts are gearing up for their biggest, most important role ever--feeding your baby. Surely the magic of becoming a milk maker outweighs the superficial desire to be perky forever.
Copyright ? 2013 Meredith Corporation.
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