“Daddy, is it possible to predict how big my breasts will be?” My ever-curious daughter confronted me with this very sensible question one evening as I sat glued to the TV screen, lost in the captivating world of the jungle on the Nat-Geo Wild channel. I stared at the overexcited 14-year-old briefly in puzzlement before glancing at her mother in anticipation of a bail-out response.
No dice. Mother’s gesture made it absolutely clear she had no intention of getting involved in our father-daughter chit-chat. And daughter wasn’t going to let me off easily either. She sat close to me patiently waiting for an answer.
How does a grown man begin to talk about breasts to his teenage daughter? I gathered my thoughts, took a deep breath and prepared to deliver a lecture.
Sweetheart, that’s a good question but it doesn’t have a direct Yes or No answer. A woman’s breast size is essentially determined by her genes, her hormones and her body weight. For instance, if a girl’s mother has small breasts and the girl doesn’t have too much body fat, she is likely to have small breasts. If the girl’s mother has big breasts and the girl has enough body fat, then she is likely to have big or even bigger breasts than her mother. Really, is that so? Daughter pondered in wonderment, her eyes big and round. I continued.
No sweetheart, every girl develops differently, so don’t be concerned if your breasts aren’t growing as fast as you expect. As you grow older, they continue to grow up till your late teens or even early 20s.
Daughter probed further. My friend has small breasts, but she likes wearing a big bra. She says I should wear a big bra too because it will make my breasts grow bigger. Is that true? No it isn’t true. Only your genes and hormones control the rate of growth of your breasts. The type or size of bra you wear has no effect at all, although you should wear a bra that is comfortable and provides enough support.
Daughter wasn’t done. How can I know the right bra size for me? I have several that do not fit well.
Sweetheart, the best way you can determine your bra size is to run a tape measure just under your breasts, around your ribcage and back. The tape measure should lie flat and not be too tight or too loose. Add five inches to the measurement of your chest size. If you get an odd number, round it off down to the next number, not up, because bras tend to stretch. A sports bra is a good first bra for girls like you.
Finally, you need to get into the habit of checking your breasts regularly by doing what is called breast self-examination. It is a method of examining your breasts for development and changes to help you understand how they normally look and feel so it will be easier to notice anything unusual later on. Your mother can show you how to do it. Daughter was genuinely impressed. Wow! Thanks daddy. You certainly know about breasts. Wait till I tell everyone how breast aware my daddy is and what he taught me. I heard Mother applauding. As I looked in her direction, she gave me double thumbs up.