Isn’t it amazing that of all the characteristics that we share with mammals – having a backbone, being warm blooded, giving birth to live young, to name but a few – the characteristic that gives our genus its name comes from our ability to nurture our young at the breast. That’s pretty significant right?
Breasts are wonderful! They come in all shapes and sizes, but they all work like something that’s close to magic. Did you know that your chest is thermally responsive to your baby? That means if it detects that your baby is cool, it will rise a degree or so to warm your baby up. If it detects a hot baby, it will actually cool down. Incredible. If you have twins and they are both placed in skin to skin contact – each breast responds individually to each baby!
Breasts begin to form when you are just a minute embryo in your mother’s womb. They don’t stop forming until you have given birth to your first baby. So that’s 20 -40 years in the making (give or take a few years!!).
The amount of milk making tissue in breasts is relatively constant in most women. What is hugely variable is the amount of fatty tissue. This is the reason that both small and large breasts are quite capable of making a plentiful milk supply. It’s true that some women seem to be able to store more milk than others – so these women can often pump more milk in one go, and their babies might last a bit longer between feeds. But the amount of milk produced over a 24-hour period is dictated by your baby, not the size or storage capacity of your breast. Imagine two women and two large buckets. The woman with the small storage capacity fills up her bucket with a teacup. The woman with the large storage capacity fills up her bucket with a pint glass. They both fill their buckets up in the end, but with quite different volumes at each fill up. That’s why it’s so important to follow your baby’s lead in the early days and weeks – we’re all different!
Saggy breasts, by the way, are nothing to do with breastfeeding. Your breasts are supported by ligaments which are stretched during pregnancy. So, breasts tend to sag more after each subsequent pregnancy – oh dear. How much they sag is basically down to genetics – check out your Mum. It’ll give you a clue whereabouts yours will end up!