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Let’s Talk About Breast Development

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Happy Hump Day, friends! Seems fitting to be continue our puberty-perimenopause series today with a conversation about breasts. 😂

I don’t know about you, but I was absolutely mortified when my breasts started to develop.  Ironic, considering I had prayed for them for years.  Nonetheless, I was so embarrassed, I made my friend Paula inform my mom that the time had come for a bra. Hayden, on the other hand, had literally no reservations when she made it known that she was ready for a bra. In fact, after purchasing a few and arriving home, she promptly and without hesitation pulled them out of the shopping bag while exclaiming to her father, “Look what we bought today!” The look on his face was priceless.

I think part of her lack of hesitation in approaching this topic is because we have always openly and honestly talked about our bodies, used correct terminology, and answered all questions with facts. (Sometimes, I MIGHT go overboard on the facts – like the time Hayden asked about a tampon when she was 4 years old, and I launched into a full lecture on our reproductive system!) I have always believed that the more “normal” we make it to discuss these sometimes-difficult topics, the less embarrassing it is for ourselves and our kids! In all honesty, it’s also just her personality. You’ll find that although there are things we can do to help make kids more comfortable, excitement vs embarrassment is also related to how they are wired.

So, let’s talk about breasts! For most girls, the very first sign of puberty is breast development, which normally begins between the ages of 8-12.  As the body begins to produce estrogen you, may start to notice a darkening of the skin to a deeper pink or even brown color – this is the areola. The nipple will become more noticeable too. The next thing to occur is the arrival of the breast bud, a firm little knot under the areola that may even be tender or painful to touch. For some girls, the development of the breast bud can be asymmetric. This means that a breast bud may develop on the left but not the right! Obviously, this can be very alarming, but is actually quite normal.  It can sometimes take up to six months before the other side appears. 

Once the breast buds appear, the breast tissue will continue to grow and change in both size and shape for approximately five to seven years. The onset of ovulation and menstruation brings about the formation of secretory glands at the end of the milk ducts. The breasts and duct system continue to grow and mature, and most young women will have experienced full breast development by the age of 17 or so. 

So, how do you know when it’s time for her first bra? Like I said above, for some girls (like Hayden), they will be ecstatic and anxious to head to the store while for others (like me), the entire idea of talking about it, let alone actually shopping in public, sounds horrific. The bottom line is this – there is no medical “need” for a bra. In fact, in some culture’s, women forgo bras completely! Some girls will want to start wearing a bra because their friends are, and others may want the privacy or nipple coverage a bra provides.  Another reason to don a bra is for comfort, as it can help provide support and decrease discomfort.  I love the Girlology puberty class for a great discussion on breast development and bra shopping – Dr. Holmes and Dr. Hutchison make it so fun! Hayden and I laughed hysterically at one point! (Watch and you’ll see!!)

Have more questions, friends?Please don’t hesitate to ask away! I’ll do my best to answer here or on social media… No doubt that if YOU are wondering, so is someone else!

And of course, watch for Anna’s post tomorrow where she discusses some important facts about how to care for our breasts at the other end of our reproductive journey!

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