Doubts about the relationship between stretch marks and breastfeeding are common. Breastfeeding is undoubtedly the best food for the baby, and women are programmed so that our physiology can produce, secrete and regulate breast milk, that serves as essential food for new-borns and infants during the first months of life.
The mammary glands and breasts of women have this main function, although its social and cultural importance clearly goes much further.
The glands and breast tissue begin to develop during the embryonic stage and until birth. During childhood, there are no significant differences between boys and girls; there is a slow increase in the size in the same proportion as the rest of the body.
It will be during puberty and due to the secretion of sex hormones such as oestrogens, progesterone and prolactin when breast development in girls begins. Growth and development will take place during the puberty years. But in reality, it is during pregnancy, when the mammary gland completes its maturation and growth, preparing it to fulfil its main function: lactation.
Pregnancy is therefore the time when the ducts and breast lobes, as well as the surrounding fatty tissue, increase. This growth, which is progressive throughout pregnancy but actually occurs in a short time, is what tightens the skin and can cause the appearance of stretch marks in a large percentage of women, if preventive measures are not taken during breastfeeding.
During lactation, milk production is quite continuous but in tune with the movement throughout the day, as well as with one’s circadian rhythm and also depending on the demand that the baby will make. This means that the chest will have obvious fluctuations in size and volume throughout the day and this is a factor that tests the elasticity of the skin and facilitates the appearance of stretch marks.
Breastfeeding sometimes lasts for several months or even years. During this time it is very important to take extreme care of the skin so that the stretch marks do not appear and to be able to maintain good hydration and elasticity.