Will My Breasts Sag If I Breastfeed?

The answer may surprise you. Learn what contributes to sagging over time and what you can do about it.

someone breastfeeding an infant

Updated on May 8, 2023.

Though the decision whether to breastfeed your baby is a personal one, with many factors at play, including your milk supply, your schedule, your resources, and your preferences, one question that may pop up as a new parent weighs the options is this: How will it affect my breasts over time? Will they sag if I choose to nurse my baby?

Breasts do lose elasticity and change shape and size over time, though mounting research shows that breastfeeding isn’t the cause. “Breastfeeding by itself has not been found to cause breast sagging, and it has a lot of benefits, so concerns about breast sagging shouldn’t prevent you from breastfeeding,” says Anita Register, DO, an OBGYN affiliated with LewisGale Hospital in Montgomery, Virginia.

While formula and breast milk are both healthy options for babies, research shows that breast milk provides infants with helpful hormones and antibodies, and may help reduce their risk for health issues like asthma, childhood leukemia, type 2 diabetes, and sudden infant death syndrome.

Of the factors that do influence sagging, there are some you can control, and others you can’t. Dr. Register points out:

It’s pregnancy—not breastfeeding

People who’ve been pregnant are more likely to develop sagging breasts, regardless of whether or not they’ve ever breastfed a child.

The human body goes through many changes during pregnancy, some of which affect the breasts. Hormones including prolactin, estrogen, progesterone and human growth hormone help prepare the breasts for milk production. The normal fatty and supportive tissue of the breast is displaced by tissue needed to produce milk. As a result, the breasts become larger and heavier.

The breasts are connected to muscle by the Cooper ligaments, which are flexible and enable the breasts to move. These ligaments stretch to accommodate the increase in breast size during pregnancy, which could contribute to future sagging. The risk for sagging may increase with every pregnancy, even for those who choose to bottle-feed their babies.

Other factors beyond your control

As the skin loses elasticity, breasts may naturally sag over time. The likelihood that your breasts will sag, however, depends on several variables that may be beyond your control, including:

  • Your DNA: Genetics help determine not only the size of your breasts but also their shape and whether or not they’ll lose firmness and skin elasticity over time.
  • Your age: Pregnancy isn’t the only factor that can cause the Cooper ligaments to stretch—it’s also part of aging. As you approach menopause, your body produces less estrogen. This may cause the breasts to lose firmness and elasticity.
  • Gravity: Over time, the weight of the breasts and the force of gravity stretch the ligaments, which can lead to sagging.
  • Your cup size: Larger breasts tend to be heavier and, thanks again to gravity, this could increase the odds that they’ll eventually sag. “A larger bra size puts you at a higher risk, and unfortunately that’s not something you’re able to control as much,” Register notes.

What you can control

Unlike potentially worrisome changes such as lumps, pain or nipple discharge, sagging breasts are not a health concern, and don’t require treatment. But if you’re interested in prevention, there are some lifestyle adjustments that may help.

Maintain a healthy weight. As you gain weight, so do your breasts, which contain fat tissue—this can cause the ligaments and skin to stretch. rapid weight loss can also cause sagging, as the loss of fat leads to looser skin. Avoiding major weight fluctuations can help prevent these issues.

Don’t smoke. If you smoke, it’s time to quit. Aside from the long list of health risks associated with the habit, there is some evidence that smoking increases the risk for breast sagging. Research suggests that smoking can affect skin elasticity and contribute to decreased breast density.

Protect your skin from the sun. Over time, exposure to harmful UV rays takes a toll on the skin. “In general, the sun can damage skin, decrease elasticity, and cause more wrinkling and sagging overall—with any part of your body,” Register explains.

Build muscle. Breasts don't contain muscle, so you can’t correct sagging with exercise. But using weights to target the chest wall muscles could help give the breasts a fuller appearance, Register says. “Exercising and strength training the pectoral muscles will help lift the breasts up,” she explains.

If you breastfeed, try this

Though breastfeeding itself won’t cause your breasts to sag, it could help to wear supportive, well-fitting bras, particularly during and after pregnancy and while exercising, Register advises. The support they provide may alleviate some stretching associated with increased breast volume that can contribute to sagging, she says.

Article sources open article sources

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Making the decision to breastfeed.”
March of Dimes. “Breastfeeding Is Best”
B Rinker, M Veneracion, CP Walsh. “The effect of breastfeeding on breast aesthetics.” Aesthetic Surgery Journal. 2008 Sep-Oct;28(5):534-7.
B Rinker, M Veneracion, CP Walsh. “Breast Ptosis: causes and cure.” Annals of Plastic Surgery. 2010 May;64(5):579-84.
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office on Women’s Health. “Your Guide to Breastfeeding”
Nicholas Eriksson, Geoffrey M Benton, Chuong B Do, et al. “Genetic variants associated with breast size also influence breast cancer risk.” BMC Medical Genetics. 13, 53 (2012).
U.S National Library of Medicine. “Aging changes in the breast”
C De Marco, G Invernizzi, R Miceli, et al. “Breast change perception in women after smoking cessation. A pilot study.” Turmori Journal. 2011 Sep-Oct;97(5):672-5.
Mayo Clinic. “Are sagging breasts inevitable after breast-feeding?”
American Academy of Pediatrics. “How Your Body Prepares For Breastfeeding.”
Johns Hopkins Medicine. “Sun Safety.”
Mayo Clinic. “Breast Lift.”
LM1 Butler, EB Gold, SM Conroy. “Active, but not passive cigarette smoking was inversely associated with mammographic density.” Cancer Causes Control. 2010 Feb;21(2):301-11.
KK Jacobsen, E Lynge, I Vejborg. “Cigarette smoking and mammographic density in the Danish Diet, Cancer and Health cohort.” Cancer Causes Control. 2016 Feb;27(2):271-80.
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