The Myth of the Saggy Breastfeeding Boobs

Image courtesy of Lourdesoftheflies

There are a lot of myths about breastfeeding. Some say it will always hurt and there’s nothing you can do about it. Some say that after X amount of time the nursling doesn’t get any nutrition from it. Some say that formula is just as healthy for baby.

One that I seems to consistently hear is breastfeeding makes your breasts sag.

(in the voice of Dr. Cox from Scrubs) Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. You’re wrong. You’re wrong.

Seriously, breastfeeding has nothing to do with making your breasts saggy, floppy, deflated, etc. I was reading a blog post from a mom who recently stopped breastfeeding. The post wasn’t even about how her breasts look afterwards, but about sex after breastfeeding. Though the post-breastfeeding saggy boobs myth was of course mentioned in passing:

And since nursing can permanently change your breasts, which left me, for one, feeling less sexy, a little lace and lift couldn’t hurt.

This couldn’t be further from wrong. Yes, your breasts will look different after breastfeeding, but it’s not the breastfeeding that caused that. Having that baby in your belly to begin with caused it. Yeah, that’s right, pregnancy (along with smoking and age) is the thing that causes your breasts to change. Breastfeeding just delays the process.

So what’s the problem with moms thinking it’s breastfeeding? In the United States, the national average for moms just trying to breastfeed even once is 75%. That’s 1/4 of new moms who don’t even attempt to breastfeed. While I’m all for choice, I do feel concerned that some of those moms aren’t making an educated decision. No, I’m not saying they’re stupid, we just live in a society where we’re not given the facts about breastfeeding. Almost everything we hear about it is from other moms who tell us it hurt or they didn’t make enough milk or various other things. If you don’t know the facts, you may just decide it’s not worth it. Even if you do know the facts (with various ads saying “breast is best”), they’re still abstract facts. Do you think a soon-to-be mom fully understands the concept of their baby having less ear infections? It’s hard to even comprehend that your child will one day be a grown adult (I still can’t do that with my toddler!), let alone picturing them as a {more likely to be} healthier, smarter adult than without breastfeeding.

You know what it easy to comprehend? Your boobs. I remember being enormously pregnant and feeling like a beached whale (that also ate too much and was pregnant with probably quadruplets). Yeah, I felt that big. If you’ve ever been pregnant, you know how it feels. I loved that my body was holding something to precious and wonderful inside of it and simultaneously absolutely hated how it looked. One {very selfish} thing I was anticipating with the birth of my child was “having my body back” and actually being able to feel sexy again! Who knows, maybe in a different world where I didn’t know the facts, I would have thought that breastfeeding somehow hurt my chances of feeling like myself again.

What are some of the worst breastfeeding myths you’ve heard? Do you know anyone who chose not to breastfeed because one of these untruths? How can we stop the spreading of these lies that put breastfeeding into a bad light?

Also, check out this awesome article from the Montgomery Advertiser that contains zero breastfeeding myths! It’s a rarity for a non-attachment parenting newspaper, online source, etc. to actually get all the facts about breastfeeding right. Yay!

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10 thoughts on “The Myth of the Saggy Breastfeeding Boobs

  1. This is probably #2 in my list of the worst breastfeeding
    myth. Next to the one that says you don’t have enough milk
    because of size, breastpump output, engorgement, brain
    size or what have you. So ridiculous…

    • Oh that one bugs me so bad! A true case of low supply that can not be fixed is very rare (I think .02%). I think the majority of moms I know that stopped claim they had low supply. Argh!

      • And the root of this issue is that if a mom feels that she “doesn’t have enough milk,” the reasons for this aren’t looked into – why does she not have enough milk? There can be so many reasons on the part of both mother and baby related to latch, tongue tie, poor breastfeeding management, medicated birth/slow recovery… and more time should be taken to find and address the issue instead of just saying, “Oh, you can’t produce enough milk.” Then that myth gets spread around because the mother doesn’t know why she didn’t have enough milk, and everyone just assumes that she couldn’t make enough in the first place and that that’s a common problem.

  2. Yes, the saggy breast myth bugs me a lot as well! I read the article you linked to, and I also think it is sad that so many women (as evidenced in the comments) feel like their bodies are ugly after giving birth. Pregnancy changes out bodies because it is a natural part of life, and a part of life is physical change in our bodies. If people weren’t so hung-up on having the culturally-imposed idea of a “perfect” body image, then maybe the saggy breast myth wouldn’t even be an issue.

  3. hey! so we’re thinking of getting pregnant by the end of the summer, specifically august. If you go before me, or even if you don’t, I wanna bring you food. I still am so grateful to you for that.

    it was nice to come over and read a few articles. Your voice has changed over here. I loved it before and now its even better.

    Sigh. I sure wouldn’t mind seeing you in real life. You going on thursday?

  4. How do you fix a low milk supply? I know of several people very close to me that tried and tried to nurse more than one baby and after a few months of the baby not getting the nourishment due to low supply, they gave up. It is a sensitive subject for mothers that have tried hard and had to give up because they had to put their childs growth first. I know how much it has hurt women close to me to have to stop. I full heartedly support breastfeeding and try to encourage anyone who will listen to do it, but I think you also need to realize that there are alot more people than you think that DO try but can’t. As I said, I know several that for one reason or another couldn’t. No matter how much help they got or what they tried. I also know alot of people that never even tried, and that irriates me because it is best. I stuck it out through pain I did not expect with my first and was SO happy I did and with my second prepared myslef for the pain but ended up with mastitis and thrush on my nipples because of the stupid mastitis antibiotics. But I still stuck it out and am still happily nursing my 9 month old. It is really a mothers determination one way or another. All the education in the world would not make that pain easier to deal with and it can make any mother give up. You should be more sensitive to the mothers that try and can’t. Sorry for the rant, I lvoe most of the stuff you put on here and have implemented much in to my parenting style from reading this, I just am very passionate about this subject because I have seen how much it hurt people close to me to try and feel like they failed because they couldn’t.

    • I’ve actually had many-a-people tell me that I need to be more sensitive to moms who breastfeeding didn’t work out for them. The problem with that statement is that I am never attacking a mom who didn’t breastfeed, no matter how she takes it. I am working against public intolerance of breastfeeding, hospitals not helping moms to breastfeed, the spread of misinformation about breastfeeding, the societal barriers of breastfeeding, the lies that formula companies spread, etc.

      I also understand that determination is a big factor in a mom continuing to breastfeed, but do you know what gives her that determination? Education. Educating a pregnant mom about the benefits of breastfeeding makes her want to continue because she knows that it’s the best, most natural option for feeding her baby. If more moms know how much better it is for their child, more of them will be determined to continue. I try to focus on these soon-to-be or one-day-to-be moms that I can educate about the benefits of breastfeeding and the bad influence of hospitals, formula companies, etc.

      As for how to fix low supply, the answer really depends on what’s causing it. If the mom is trying to schedule feedings, that often brings supply down. The answer there would be to feed on demand. Maybe even have a “breastfeeding vacation” where you lay in bed for a weekend nursing as much as possible, which would jump start their supply again. Some women, no matter how often they feed, just aren’t making enough. I’ve been in this situation and upping my water intake, nursing as often as possible, and taking More Milk Plus helped me give my supply a little boost. There are even more things that can cause low supply that are an issue within themselves such as bad latch. Correct the bad latch and supply will increase. Go to kellymom.com for more information on increasing supply.

    • Diana West is an expert on low milk supply – I saw her speak on the topic, and she has a book called Making More Milk: http://www.amazon.com/Breastfeeding-Mothers-Guide-Making-More/dp/007159857X
      She addresses issues with the mother that could cause low supply, and issues with the baby where he may not be removing enough milk/stimulating a full supply. She addresses various issues and how to identify and resolve them so that moms who truly don’t have some kind of physical problem in producing milk can be more successful.

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