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"7 key things nobody told me about post-baby boobs."

Image via iStock.

There’s plenty of hype about pregnancy boobs. You and your partner will be obsessed with them, although for different reasons. Them: “Babe, your boobs look awesome!” You: “But they are itchy and none of my bras fit!”

You thought that was fun? Well, the boob obsession doesn’t stop once your baby is born. The changes to come over your bosom will be enough to entertain you for possibly years to come. Intrigued? Welcome to the world of post-pregnancy boobs…from a woman who’s been there.

Related:  Does a woman’s diet during pregnancy influence her baby’s food preferences?  

1. Sex can be awkward.

Uh, it's not really like this for anyone, except for Katy Perry.

For some women, the changed role of their breasts – from funbags to feedbags – can affect their sex lives. This is often due to their breasts spraying or leaking milk during sex.

“It's common for milk to leak from the breasts during arousal and orgasm,” says Rachel Fuller, president of the Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA). “This is because the same hormone - oxytocin - triggers both the let-down reflex and orgasm.”

The “let-down reflex” is the breast’s first release of milk after the baby starts sucking during a feed.

Related:  “Feeling sexy doesn’t come from my hair”: Tessa James speaks about feeling empowered after cancer treatment.  

2. They may look different.

Wagon Wheels, or a scientific model of post-pregnancy nipples? (Source: Arnott's.)
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Nipples can get larger and darker, and could be mistaken for Wagon Wheels in both size and chocolatey colour. You can thank your hormones for that.

Some women also report that the veins in their breasts become very bright and visible through the skin, making your breasts resemble Google Maps.

But don’t worry, because all of this is normal, and after you’re finished breastfeeding, your boobs should begin to look more like their usual selves. Unless your breasts have an accurate Google Map on them, in that case, it could prove to be very useful.

3. Breastfeeding is surprising.

Australian model, Nicole Trunfio, breastfeeds her son while on a photoshoot. (Source: Instagram, @nictrunfio.)

Whether you’re keen to breastfeed or not, the process of breastfeeding will take you by surprise. My ambivalence towards breastfeeding turned to delight as I found that it helped me bond with my daughter and it came easily to me. This was a huge surprise, because my body was definitely not good at pregnancy.

Related:  7 tips for choosing a sports bra that works for your boobs.  

For others, breastfeeding can be excruciatingly painful and lead to bouts of mastitis, as Mia Freedman can attest. Take heart in knowing that whether you choose breastfeeding, formula or a combination of both, your baby will still be nourished.

4. They may get saggy.

It's okay to have saggy boobs. (Source: iStock.)
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It happens to many of us! But make no mistake: this is not because of breastfeeding. Instead, it’s the pregnancy itself that can cause sagging.

“Research has shown that breastfeeding doesn't negatively affect breast shape or volume,” writes Elizabeth LaFleur, registered nurse, for Mayo Clinic. “During pregnancy, the ligaments that support your breasts might stretch as your breasts get fuller and heavier.”

Fuller believes that there are several factors that can contribute to saggy breasts: “Heredity, pregnancy and weight gain or loss all affect the way breasts change over time,” she explains.

She also reinforces the fact that changes to breast tissue are due to pregnancy, rather than breastfeeding.

“Whether or not mothers breastfeed, their breasts probably won't be quite as 'perky' as they were before she became pregnant because pregnancy has changed them,” advises Rachel.

A word of advivce? Embrace your new shape with open arms.

Related:  Tracey Spicer believes Michelle Bridges’ fertility comments are “wrong”.  

5. One word: Blood.

Yes, some mothers notice blood in their breast milk, but don't panic if this happens to you.

“In most cases, blood-staining in breast milk does not indicate a serious medical condition, but a mother should see a doctor to have this ruled out,” recommends Rachel.

“It is common to have blood-stained colostrum or milk in the first days after giving birth. This is thought to be as a result of the growth of the ducts and milk-making cells in the breast, and does not persist beyond about seven days.” (Post continues after gallery.)

Rachel explained to me that the colour of one’s breast milk can also indicate whether there is blood. If your breast milk is red, pink, brown, black or olive green, there may be blood present.

And the reason for blood in breastmilk, it’s either to do with the nipples or the milk ducts.

Related: The Vampire Facial: “The gory beauty treatment that made my face go crazy.”  

“One of the most common causes of blood in breastmilk is cracked nipples. A less common condition that may cause blood in breastmilk is an intraductal papilloma — a small benign wart-like growth on the lining of a milk duct, which bleeds as it erodes.”

Either way, consult your doctor with your concerns.

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6. There's no perfect bra.

How about I'll take none of these? (Source: iStock.)

Well, not when I needed a maternity bra, anyway. In my experience, being larger than a D cup (pre-pregnancy, too) meant that truly supportive maternity bras were impossible to find. What worked for me was wearing a maternity singlet, which is a singlet with an in-built bra. This kept everything under control whilst still being comfortable.

Related:  “I’m petrified of falling pregnant again.”  

According to Rachel, the best time to start looking for a maternity bra is at four months pregnant, as most of the breast changes would have occurred by then. She also recommends being professionally fitted for a maternity bra, and avoiding underwire bras during pregnancy and lactation, as the breast changes shape.

More concerning, though, is that “a rigid underwire can put pressure on a breast when it is fuller, which may lead to blocked ducts or mastitis”. Ouch.

7. The obsession never ends.

Even over a year after weaning their child, many mothers notice that their toddlers still love touching and cuddling their mum’s boobs, and see them as a source of comfort. Breasts: they’re the gift that keeps on giving.

Have you heard of these post-pregnancy breast changes? Or have you experienced them yourself?

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