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The other day my colleague Ruchita Mehra, who advises on an online support group for breastfeeding, came to me with a question that popped up on the group, and which had a surprising number of followers.
“What can I do about the sag in my breasts since breastfeeding?” To all the women out there who share this concern, here are a few facts that all of us need to know, and here’s what you can do.
Fact 1. Hormones during your pregnancy are what makes the breasts swell and eventually sag. Not breastfeeding. So please don’t let the fear of sag stop you from feeding your baby.
Fact 2. The breasts are predominately fatty tissue located directly over the muscles of your chest—the pectorals. So the only way to boost your breasts is to strengthen these supporting muscles underneath your breasts. The even better news is that you don’t have to sweat it out in the gym for hours to do this. All you need is five minutes every other day (aim for 3-4 times a week) for these exercises:
1. Palm pushes—Bring your palms together in a namaste in front of your chest and squeeze together. Hold for a count of 10, then release. Repeat 2-3 times. This is a great exercise to engage your shoulders and chest.
2. Push-ups—Full, half, on a step, against a wall. Whatever you can manage, just go for it. It’s a superb exercise and will also give you the strength you need to lug that ever-increasing weight of your infant around! Aim for two sets of 15 and above.
3. Chest flies can be done on a small incline. You can create this at home by propping up your upper body with pillows. Use small weights—2kg and above—and aim for 15-20 repetitions and 2-3 sets.
4. Chest press. Again, use small weights—2kg and above—and aim for 15-20 reps and 2-3 sets.
5. Pectoral stretches. Stand to face a right-hand corner of your room with your hands interlaced behind your head, prop your elbows on the walls and shift your weight forward. Feel that stretch in your chest muscles and breathe deeply, releasing the muscles on each exhale. Hold for a count of 12, then release, and go for 2 more reps.
Not only will these exercises help with the sag, they will also ensure that that pain in your upper back (yes, that niggling pain you’ve had ever since you have been breastfeeding), disappears. And help you tone up your arms. Bye-bye jiggle.
Consultant - Obstetrics and Gynecology