Boobs. Boobies. Tatas. Wabs. The Girls. Ma nip bumps (OK I made that one up).
We carry them around in overpriced and often uncomfortable bras as sometimes visible fashion accoutrements enhanced by padding, or sometimes as shameful lumps we try to hide. They have been the subject of art and titillation for…well, forever. Not everyone loves their boobs. Some of us don’t have them any more. But boobs are a part of life. At times during Game of Thrones, too much a part of life (put ’em AWAY!).
From a sparing AA cup to a bountiful G or more, to a post masctomy breast, however you identify gender wise, many of us have them. We spend money making them look better, smaller, perkier, more shapely. But we sometimes forget they are there for a very good reason.
Food. However you try to get away with it, nature meant them to be there to feed future offspring.
But things change. Our pleasure palaces are serving their biological purpose less and less these days as more of us decide to skip the babies part, chose not to breast feed (or find they cannot), transition their gender, or have masectomies as a result of or to ensure they protect themselves against, breast cancer. They are also pretty amazing to have a fiddle with too due to all those lovely nerve endings they contain in the nipple area.
Basically, boobs aren’t just about babies anymore. And this is not a bad thing. But their biological imperative needs to be considered when understanding why they are there in the first place. So keep it in mind as we delve into their pillowy greatness with a few voluptuous (or perky) facts below.
Remember, I am not a doctor or medical professional so ALWAYS go see one of the professionals if you are ever worried about your boobs (or any other part of your body!).
Why do women have boobs?
Milk, babies, blah blah. I do it down but actually breast milk is incredible stuff from a science perspective (read all about it here). Anyway, principally boobs are there to make milk to feed an offspring.
How do they grow?
If you, like me were (or are) a 12 year old girl willfully staring down at the chubby buds on her chest sat in a bra surreptitiously given to you by a friend’s big sister that serves no purpose as you don’t fill it, you’ll know some girls seem to blossom overnight and others….don’t. I mean, mine didn’t separate from the puppy fat until I hit 16 (thank god for a wonderbra and pocket money). Other tweens in my class woke up with huge melons overnight and did not know where the HELL they came from. Ohhh how I jealous I was…
The NHS website says your breasts are ‘sore’ before they grow (do not remember this at all) and that public hair starts around the same time (again…it was a long time ago) but if we are being technical what is actually happening is fatty tissue and milk glands develop under the nipples as puberty kicks off. This goes on for a while and most girls will have their ladies fully formed by their late teens. When I say full formed, I mean that they won’t grow anymore and they will be developed enough to feed a baby should they need to.
Why do my wabs hurt when I have a period?
I actually never noticed this until I tried to get pregnant but it turned out my tits hurt for the last few days of my cycle EVERY FRICKING MONTH. Not so that I noticed it until I was hyper aware of every part of my cycle, but it was there. One friend has reported her boobs grow/swell as well before her period by a whole cup size.
That is progesterone doing that. Basically this hormone dominates the end half of your cycle and is effectively laying down the red carpet on the off chance that you have had sex and will be creating a life this month.
Maddeningly, like a House guest who turns up too early, this hormone is already preparing the glands to grow. Of course this goes away when your period shows up hence the breast pain. Also why that “tell tale” pregnancy sign is a load of guff for many. Usually your period will show up a few days after the breast pain starts on a nornal cycle.
I have hairs on my nipples. Is this normal?
Yes. As is having one boob bigger than the other. Pluck the hairs if they annoy or embarass you. Most of us have them I promise. If you’re COVERED in them then do go and see a doctor as there could be a hormone imbalance.
Why have my boobs changed as I got older?
Boobs do change over time. Ladies and people in your late twenties to early thirties, notice your girls looking a little less, er, perky? Well, it’s down to hormone changes and also a combination of life, genetics and gravity. You produce less estrogen as you get older which boosts skin elasticity, but you have also lived a full life with your boobs and they will suffer a little for it. You can help them however.
Wearing a good bra (for the love of God always wear a sports bra when being active people-that really will give the girls a hammering if you go for a run without a well fitting one) and support while sleeping can help. Keep them moisturised with a good organic cream (i’m not getting into carcinogens and theories behind them on breast tissue here so have opted for organic to cover my arse). Putting on or losing weight will change your breast shape and possibly their perkiness. Oh, and always use a factor 30-50 sun cream on your chest, neck and tatas. You will thank me in 30 years time.
What to watch out for with ya boobs
Any changes other than those exerted by gravity. Lumps, bumps, puckering on the nipples, nipples changing at ALL. Colour change, pain….anything. If you’re worried do NOT WAIT. Get to the doctor NOW.
If you need help on how to check your breasts see here.
If you do decide to opt for a bundle of joy your jooblies will be the first things you may notice changing. Yes I know I said earlier it was guff-I am talking post period due, 5/6 weeks in. They may hurt; some people it’s uncomfortable and others will scream when someone brushes against them.
This is, as I have said above, progesterone telling your body to start growing those glands into milk making glands. Actually most people born female will have the potential to make milk at any time (and some men can even lactate), but you’ll notice them swelling and feeling sore in the first 10 weeks. Invest in a nice soft bralet or cheap maternity bra and sleep with support. Keep those girls supported.
The amazing people at Breast Cancer Now say it better than i ever could so if this is way they say on bra shopping:
“A bra fits well if:
- Your breasts fill the cup of the bra leaving no loose fabric and it contains the whole breast without any bulging at the top, bottom or sides
- The strap at the back doesn’t dig in
- The shoulder straps do not carry the full weight of your breasts, stay in place when you lift your arms above your head and fit closely to your body without digging in
- The strap round the back and the front underband lie close to your body and are at the same level at the front and back
- With an underwired bra, the underwire lies flat against your body and supports the underneath and sides of your breast without digging in or gaping
- The bra fits on the loosest set of hooks so that when it begins to stretch with time you can tighten it
You may find it more comfortable to wear a maternity or soft-cup bra. These types of bras can also be worn in bed if you feel you need extra support while sleeping.”
Milk production can start as early as 18 weeks which is an oily yellow liquid called Colostrum. You can start hand expressing and freezing it from 36 weeks pregnant.
Your milk never ‘runs out’, breastfeeding will not cause your boobs to sag and your actual milk won’t come in until 2-4 days after the baby arrives. I feel I have to blurt those out as quick myth busters.
Now look. I have breastfed two children. Both had tongue tie, one diagnosed and sorted and my eldest finally noticed at 6 months after which she had accidentally destroyed my nipples. Breast feeding is hands down a cracking way to feed.
No-one will ask your kid about it when they go to uni, no-one has any business on how you feed your child. I have loved feeding my children. But….it has been hard. It is not for everyone.
I have known people drive themselves into depression trying to breast feed. If you find it is making you unhappy,.please remember ‘happy baby, happy mum’. Be gentle on yourself.
La Leche League have the most amazing suport for new parents: https://www.laleche.org.uk/get-support/
If you opt for surgery it can be for many reasons. Personal, medical or cosmetic it is always useful to look at the risks.
The NHS have a fantastic page on breast augmentation here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cosmetic-procedures/breast-enlargement/ and again for reduction: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cosmetic-procedures/breast-reduction-female/
Just be aware surgery is always a major deal. We laugh it off as normal these days but as any woman recovering from a c section will tell you…routine surgery is still a huge strain on the body.
When do I need to start examining my breasts?
Now! This minute. It is never too early to start checking your puddings (running out of names here). Although breast screening in the UK doesn’t start until 50 (see more on what is involved here) you should be checking your breasts regularly for any changes or lumps. Again, if you fInd anything or they are painful for no reason, contact your GP ASAP.
That is a very quick guide which I am sure I will add to later. But hopefully I have covered the basics here. If you feel I have missed anything out please let me know!