As part of our #MarchonMamas project we've invited guest blogger, Siobhán O’Donovan, founder of PostureFitting to bust some breast & bra myths. We know ill-fitting bras can cause discomfort and create a barrier to being active. The brilliant blog, packed with tips, will hopefully help you to March on Mama, whether it's walking, jogging or running!
Your Amazing Boobs!
Human bodies are amazing, ne more so than when you are pregnant and post-natal. Changes to the size, weight and volume of your breasts during the pre & post-natal periods mean they need external support, which they can get in the form of an optimally fitting bra.
Do you know how you can best support your breasts during the various stages of you being pre & post-natal? In so doing, you support the rest of your body, your overall health and wellness. This is essential for all post-natal women, breastfeeding or not. After all, post-natal is forever!
During pregnancy, your incredible body changes to accommodate, nourish and prepare for your growing baby:
Your ribcage and attached diaphragm move up and out about 4cms (nearly 2 inches), increasing your torso girth. This needs to be considered when choosing a bra;
The volume, size and weight of your breasts gradually increase as your mammary (glan-dular) tissue increases in size to assist your milk supply. Breasts also contain adipose (fat) tissue, an increase to which forms part of the overall weight gain supporting the baby’s growth. These changes can cause a need for bigger cup sizes than pre-pregnancy.
After giving birth, your breasts can increase further in size over the first 3-5 days, primarily af-fecting the cup size you need in your bra. Over time, your ribcage should gradually return to its previous size, as its increased girth is no longer needed. The glandular tissue usually goes back down to its original size, or ends up being a little less, post-partum. This is likely to mean the bras you wore in your 3rd trimester will now be too big for you.
During breastfeeding, milk supply and depletion increase and decrease the volume, weight and size of the breasts. Women are often told, not always justifiably, not to wear wired bras while breastfeeding, and often while pregnant. There is no evidence to support this advice.
After breastfeeding, the breasts’ only internal support mechanism of the skin is likely to have been stretched by the extra breast, coupled with low oestrogen levels affecting its elasticity. Shallowness in the upper portion of the breasts is common, leading to one mother describing her breasts as “egg yolks dripping down a wall”. Supporting breasts externally when their only intrinsic support has been compromised is the most appropriate treatment for breast sag.
Breast Quiz Ever!
Use our TRUE OR FALSE? quiz to enhance your knowledge & avoid the booby trap of poor breast support!
1. Most women are wearing a bra that doesn’t fit them correctly:
And, in our experience as PostureFitting Physios, it is far more than the 70-80% often quoted. Incredibly frustratingly, many of the women I have seen wearing an incorrectly fitting bra have actually been measured, but not optimally fitted. Unfortunately, some retail outlets, whether online or in-person, still use a technique developed in the 1940s, which has not progressed with new manufacturing materials. Yep, you read that right, the 1940s!
2. I already know my bra size, so I don’t need to try before I buy:
There is no standard sizing within the bra industry, so bras labelled the same can differ. Even styles within the same brand can vary, so you could be a totally different size in each one.
The changes in breast size also mean your bra size will vary significantly. If you don’t try before you buy, you will likely just be adding to the drawerful of bras you probably have that you never wear, because something about each of them is just “not right”!
Size really doesn’t matter – fit does!
3. You only need to be fitted for a bra if you have big breasts:
The muscles in the back of our body are our gravity fighters. Anything creating a forward pull helps gravity, forcing those muscles work harder. Any breast weight, no matter how small, can result in us giving in to gravity. The resultant level of strain can result in neck or back pain or mobility problems, if the muscles are being overloaded, as is often the case. Correctly support-ing breasts of any size helps in the daily female battle against gravity.
4. Breast size and therefore bra size changes at different times of your life:
And you’ll know this if you are or have been pregnant, breast-fed, experienced weight gain or loss, or if you are peri or post-menopausal. Volume even changes within our menstrual cycles, yet many women wear the same bra size for years!
5. Wired bras are painful and can cause breast cancer:
False & False!!
There is no evidence linking breast cancer with wearing a wired bra. Underwire is often blamed for discomfort, and likely with good reason if the fit is incorrect. Wire sticking into sensitive breast tissue can hurt! But ditching the wire is not the answer – the solution is wearing an opti-mally fitted bra where the wire is supportive and comfortable because it lies around your breast, not on it. You should never be reminded of the fact that you are wearing a bra.
6. Wearing two bras while exercising is enough to stop breasts moving excessively:
Squishing your breasts together with more than one bra is neither kind to your breasts nor does it provide the support needed to decrease breast movement during activity. Researchers have identified that breasts are a barrier to activity for many women and girls, an obstacle that can be removed for a lot of females with an optimally-fitted sports bra. Your breasts bounce 10,000 times in an hour of running at 10min/mile pace. That’s Tigger quantities!
7. Breasts that don't grow a lot during pregnancy are a sign that you're having a boy:
Many mothers of boys will attest to that, & how that one belongs in the Old Wives’ Tales pile!
8. Wearing an optimally fitted bra can improve your posture, and how you feel, move, look:
Evidence shows that posture can affect your mood, and how you feel about yourself in turn affects how you feel in yourself, and the choices you make as a result. An optimally-fitted bra can act like both an external and an internal postural support.
And now the bonus, million-dollar question:
Where do you go to be correctly fitted, improve your posture & feel, move, look better?
The best way to know for sure that you are being optimally fitted for a bra is to learn how to do it yourself! Knowing how to fit yourself allows you to work with your wonderfully changing body. Even better, knowing how your optimal bra-fit can uplift your optimal alignment makes for more sustainable improvements than bra-fit alone, and is the difference between a Posture-Fitting and a shop-based bra-fitting.
• At your PostureFitting physio appointment, you will experience how your optimal bra fit can assist you in gaining & maintaining your optimal posture, so that you feel, move, look better.
• You will learn how to fit yourself, using specifically selected bras held in the physiotherapy clinic, including daywear and sports bras.
Our mission at PostureFitting is to have a PostureFitting Physio near you. If you are a physio, that PostureFitting Physio could be you! If you are not a physio and you don’t have a PostureFitting Physio near you, contact Siobhán about a virtual PostureFitting consultation. You can also ask your local physio to get in touch with us to find out how they can become a PostureFitting Physio.
For more info, see www.posturefittingphysio.com