What is normal breast development?

Normal adult breast pictures
- see how varied they are!

woman's breasts that sag

immature breasts of young woman

mature breasts of woman

lactating breasts

breastfeeding woman's breasts

small breasts of young woman

breasts with stretch marks

flat chested woman

breasts with tanline

asymmetrical female breasts

sagging breasts

female breasts

See BREAST GALLERY for more breast pictures

This Spanish webpage has many breast pics of 19-year old girls:
Pautas Saludables para sus Mamas - Encuesta Fotográfica - 19 años


baby is ready for breastfeeding
An older baby is often distracted from nursing by whatever is going around her.

breastfeeding doll
Every girl should have a breastfeeding doll instead of them skinny barbies.

Nursing an 1-month old infant

breastfeeding after birth
This mom is nursing her newborn right after giving birth - just like all moms should!

nursing a baby
My small baby preferred to nurse sitting up.

A newborn baby has nipples, areolas, and the beginnings of breast tissue but most of the breast development occurs in two different periods of time in a woman's life: first in puberty, then during pregnancy.

Breast development during puberty

The beginning of breast development is one of the earliest signs of puberty, the appearance of pubic hair being the other.  Breast development normally begins about 1 year before the menstrual period begins.  The development takes several years and is usually divided into five stages according to Tanner:

  • In the first stage (during childhood) the breasts are flat.
  • The second stage is called the breast bud stage. In it, the nipple and breast are slightly raised as milk ducts and the fat tissue begin to form. Also, the areola begins to enlarge.
  • In the third stage there is further growth. Initially this happens in a conical shape, and later on in a rounder shape. The areola begins to darken.
  • In the fourth stage, the nipple and the areola form a separate mound ('mound on mound'). Menstruation typically starts within two years from reaching this stage. Some skip the 'mound on mound' stage altogether.
  • In the fifth stage, the breast finishes its growth during puberty, and is round shaped.

The whole process from the breast bud stage till Tanner stage 5 usually takes about 3-5 years, but for some girls it may take close to 10 years.  After these five stages, the breast is still NOT considered mature or fully developed.  Only pregnancy brings about the fullness of breast growth and development.

The breast development can start as early as 8 years or as late as 13 years.  If a girl does not have breast buds nor pubic hair, which are the first signs of puberty, by age 14, it is recommended that she see a doctor.

Breast development during pregnancy

Breasts grow in size considerably during pregnancy because of further growth of the milk ducts and milk producing glands.  Also the areola enlarges and becomes darker, as if really pointing out where the 'nutrition center' (nipple) is.  Thus the breasts will be fully mature and ready for their job, producing milk for the child.

Changes during menopause

In menopause, the milk producing system - ducts and milk glands - shrink, and are replaced by fat.  That makes the breasts softer.  Also the connective tissue loses strength, which makes the breasts sag more.

Teens worry if their breasts are normal

As the following comments sent to Dolly Magazine show, teenagers do worry a lot about their breast size/shape/development, and many teen girls wish for bigger breasts:

From Dolly Magazine:

"hii..i am 15yrs old .. my breast has started growing but not like my other friends.can you plz give me a solution to make it bigger."


"i feel that the size of my breasts are too big which gives me a bad figure what should i do to reduce it.My age is 20,what should i do?"

"thanx for your site i'm 10 years old and i thought i had normal breasts but all the other girls make fun of me. only one other girl has breasts but not like me. they say my breasts are to big for me (i'm 4'8 and 84 pounds) and now i wear sweaters alot to hide it. when is the normal age to have breasts and will they get smaller again? i like your site but i dont see any pics of women that look like me :'("

"thank you so much. i was very concerned about my developemend. but i am still unsure, i am 16 years old and one of my breasts is larger than the other one. is this normal?"

"My niece is 9 and only one of her breast is starting to develop. Is this normal or should both start developing at the same time. My sister is a little concerned that it might be som type of deformity. Can you give me any answers? Thank you."

"I'm a 16 year old who is still in high school. I was embarassed all the time because I have small breasts. It runs in my family, and all my friends have large breasts. I was afraid to wear bathing suits, dresses, tank tops, and pretty much and cute shirt. But because of this site I have a new confidence in myself. I play volleyball, soccer, surf, snowboard, and love dancing. But my small breasts held me back, and yes I did think ALL THE TIME about getting implants. All the girls on my teams had nice large breasts and they bragged about them and showed them off in revealing shirts. Now that I really think about it, it is the people who mark you for your breast size who need to grow up. THANKS!

First of all, it is very normal and usual for one breast to bud before the other, or the breasts to develop at different rate so that they are lopsided for a while.  They usually even out eventually for the most part so that the uneven sizes are not real noticeable.  However, a big portion of adult women do have different size breasts, usually one is just slightly bigger than the other, or maybe has a different shape. 

Secondly, many teenagers get concerned when they see their friends' breasts growing and theirs are not.  There is usually absolutely NO REASON TO WORRY because the timing varies greatly from girl to girl.  Some start developing breasts as early as 8 years old, some as late as 18, though in most girls the breasts start budding between 9 and 12 years.  In any case, your breasts WILL develop in time for their purpose of feeding your baby!

"I'm 13 and in my school girls have big breasts and it seemes that im the only one flat chested. People say that i still hae time to grow. And this site has helped me see that I do have time to grow."

"Wow- this site sure helped me feel a bit better and more informed!
I am 18 and never really had any breasts. All the fat cells that I would love to have in the right place went to the hips and butt.
But you helped me realize that medium big and perky just isn't the norm."

In fact, you might be lucky if you develop later!  It used to be that the average age of beginning of menstruation (menarche) in the 1800s was 16-17 years, whereas now it is between 12-13 years.  So girls are maturing much earlier than they used to.  Something in modern life has made this change, and probably the girls in ages past were better off.  It is easier to deal with the raging hormones and other changes of puberty when your mind has had time to develop.

Thirdly, if you have large breasts, it is very normal that they start 'sagging' or drooping some already during your teen years.  It is a natural process that happens to everybody at some point, and there really isn't anything you can do to prevent it - for example bras won't keep breasts from sagging.  Below you can see what comments some teens have left on our breast gallery page about this fact.  If you're teen and have sagging breasts, you are NOT alone!

I normally thought I was abnormal as at the age of sixteen I have sagging breats. But now I know that I am normal.
thank u
pooh bear

Is there anyway that you can prevent your boobs from sagging when your around 13

I'm 18 and my breasts are already pretty saggy. They resemble the breasts of a 40 year old mother of two. Although, I appreciated seeing normal breasts, I was wondering if it is common to have overly saggy breast at this young an age?

i have a question, i'm 15 years old and i'm at a D bra now and my breast without my bra are sagging or i think they are sagging. how do i know if they are sagging when they are so big and what can i do about it?

I am only 16 but I worry about my breasts. I have natural size c-cup breasts and I have worries that are are too big, already. My breasts have already began to sag and it worries me but I'm beginning to see that breasts of all sizes are normal and this site has helped me to see this.

Thank you. Until I saw this website I was convinced that my saggy, lopsided breasts were absolutely abnormal and hideously ugly. Working on a college campus, I'm surrounded by the perky breasts of girls in their late teens and early 20's and this has distorted my perception of "normal." Growing up overweight, my breasts developed (and began to sag) earlier than most. I never experienced "perky", or at least was too young and asexual at that point to enjoy them. Thank you for helping me understand and appreciate my body for what it is. :o)
I think this web site is great, i am 19 and being a 32H they are sagging a bit and thought i was too young for this to start happening to me, but seeing these picutres of other people it has made me feel alot better about my self, thank you.

Sometimes you may think you have sagging breasts when in reality you really don't, or it is very minimal. You can read What causes sagging breasts? to find out more about droopy breasts.

Fourthly, there are no reliable means of increasing your breast size other than breast implants.  But you should know those carry with them very serious health risks.  Internet is of course full of sites selling herbal breast enhancement pills and creams.  There is much more hype than reality in those products.  Some women may gain a little in breast size while taking the pills but it is not permanent, and many just lose their money for nothing.  Because of the hormonal effects, the breast pills are not for teenagers anyway.

Breast size is determined by your genes.  You can look to your mom and other female relatives and get somewhat of an idea of what your breast size might end up being, though this is NOT a guarantee.  Exercise won't make breasts bigger.  Nor will any special diet or foods - but of course it is important to eat a healthy diet so your body can develop as it is supposed to.

We hope knowing these facts will ease your mind off from worrying.  You may have heard or read these same facts about breast development elsewhere, too.  They are commonly known and commonly noted.  So the chances are you are developing just normally and there's no reason to be concerned.

this is such a good site. it has made me feel so much better. i used to think i was abnormal. now i know... i'm normal :)
a teenager

I am 21 years old and ever since my teens I have thought my breasts were ugly and deformed. I have recently tried to commit suicide and as a result was a patient in a mental health ward, all due to the way I perceive my breasts. This site has helped me to understand that I am a normal woman. I hope it will stop other women from suffering the way I have over the years.

Why do teenagers worry so much about breasts?

But it might be worth your while still consider this one thing: WHY is it that teenage girls worry so extremely about their breasts?  Is it just normal human nature?  Do you worry equally much about the shape of your lips or eyes?  Usually not.  So something else enters the picture.

The culture that surrouds you - especially magazines, TV, music videos, internet - has influenced your (and your friends' and your parents') thinking.  The media images leave the impression that normal kind of breasts are fairly big and perky with small areola - the ones you see supermodels have.  Hollywood has promoted a "big breast" image to the modern world - BUT it was also Hollywood that in the 1920s was promoting the flat-chested look.  Women in that time tried to bind their breasts to make them look smaller.

So what you see in media does NOT reflect the reality of women's breasts!  Female breast is the one body part that varies most of any body parts in size and shape.  You can be smarter than to fall into this trap and think for yourself!  There is NO precise rule as to what is "normal" when it comes to breasts.

The North American culture also makes breasts to be primarily a sexual body part, and does not emphasize their feeding function.  Remember, breasts are for breastfeeding, and when the time comes, your baby will LOVE your milk and the closeness of being held next to mom's bosom no matter what size or shape your breasts or areola or nipple are.

The best thing to do is just try to learn to be GLAD YOU ARE YOU, instead of trying to copy other people.  When/if the time comes that you find yourself a husband someday, he will hopefully fall for YOU - and not some Hollywood stereotype!!!!!!!!

See also:

What causes sagging?
Teenage girls, breast size & body image
Normal Breasts Gallery
Who needs breast implants?
Breast taboo explained

Breast Size, Shape & Concerns - Questions and Answers from TeenHealthFX

Finding objective information on herbal breast enlargement pills

Stages of breast development with pictures

Flapper Fashion 1920s
In the 1920s, the fashions dictated a flat-chested look

For More Teenage Girls, Adult Plastic Surgery
Rise in Breast Implants and Other Procedures Raises Doubts About Long-Term Effects

Teens and Breast Implants

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Disclaimer: Information here is not medical advice. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease, nor to replace the advice you could get from a health professional. If you are in doubt, please see a doctor (or several). So if you're in doubt, and especially if you have some other symptoms, please see a doctor.