Throughout the nine months of pregnancy, your body shifts and changes in ways you probably could have imagined and others that you never did. And additional changes that come after giving birth may catch you off-guard, as well. One of the most common concerns among new moms is sagging breasts.
Throughout pregnancy, your breasts may get bigger—as much as one cup size—as the result of estrogen enlarging your milk ducts. But once milk production halts, the breasts shrink but the stretched out skin may not have the elasticity to shrink down to the smaller size, and the breasts sag as the result of a higher ratio of skin to breast tissue, explains Constance M. Chen, MD, a board-certified plastic surgeon in New York.
Age and DNA tend to be the determining factors when it comes to breast skin elasticity, Dr. Chen notes. “Some women naturally have more skin elasticity than others,” she says. “Younger women tend to have more skin elasticity than older women, but at the end of the day a lot depends on genetics.”
That said, there are certain measures you can take to minimize the effect and preempt sagging.
1. Make sure you’re wearing a supportive bra that fits you properly.
“A good supportive bra can help minimize the pulling down of a heavy breast,” Dr. Chen says.
2. Wear the bra throughout your pregnancy and postpartum period.
Wearing a quality, well-fitting bra while you’re expecting and following your L.O.’s birth can support breast tissues and muscles, notes Heather Bartos MD, FACOG, Chief, OB-GYN at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Denton in Denton, Texas.
The more often you can keep your breasts supported, the better. “I wore a nursing bra even at night,” Dr. Bartos shares.
3. Don’t shy away from targeted strength training or yoga.
Once you have the go-ahead from your doctor to hit the gym after baby, do workouts like yoga or strength training that strengthen your pectoral muscles, back, and specifically your lats, or latissimus dori muscles, which are on the sides of your middle to lower back, advises Dr. Bartos. Strengthening the pecs that can provide the breasts with a bit of lift. Working the back muscles will improve posture, which can help your breasts appear perkier.
“Practicing yoga will strengthen those pecs—and can induce weight loss which can sometimes make the fatty tissue of the breasts smaller—leaving the toned pectoral muscles holding up the smaller breasts,” explains Pamela Crane, a yoga teacher in Montclair, Virginia.
She recommends strengthening the pecs with poses like plank, side plank, and warrior 2. And for posture support, try chest-opening poses like supported fish, bow pose, and dancer.
4. Don’t underestimate the power of nutrition.
Obviously, you’re focused on keeping your diet clean for the sake of your L.O. throughout your pregnancy and after giving birth. But a balanced, healthy diet can also be a boon for your breasts’ appearance.
Mary Rosser, MD, OB-GYN at ColumbiaDoctors and Assistant Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, explains, “A nutritious diet and hydration will keep skin supple, helping to maintain and maybe improve the skin’s natural elasticity.”