Women's Health Q&A

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Women's Health Q&A

I'm almost 18 and one of my breasts is much smaller than the other. Is this because my breasts are still growing or will one always be bigger than the other?

Your breasts usually begin to develop between the ages of 8 and 13. Sometimes, one breast will start developing before the other or grow more quickly than the other, but the difference evens out once you are full-grown, usually around age 20. Our breasts come in all shapes and sizes: large, small, pointed, flat, full, round, hanging or firm. Women's breasts are rarely symmetrical. For an unknown reason, the left breast is usually the larger one. No exercise, supplement or diet will change the size or shape of your breasts. Many young women with different-sized breasts just accept that they are normal and don't do anything differently. Others feel more comfortable if they wear a bra with a lot of support or special inserts that make their breasts appear more equal in size. Although you may be very aware of the difference in the size of your breasts, other people can't usually see the difference.

If you can, ask your mother, aunt, grandmother, other family member or friend to see if they have had different-sized breasts and how they dealt with the issue to feel more comfortable. If you are still worried, talk with a nurse, doctor or gynecologist. He or she should be able to reassure you that your breasts are perfectly normal and that you don't have any health problems.

Sources: Our Bodies, Ourselves for the Next Century; KidsHealth

I'm pregnant and due at the end of April 2000. I've been told I can take up to a year's maternity leave. Has the federal government made changes to the maternity benefits?

In essence, the federal government is doubling the total length of leave new parents can take. Until December 30, 2000, the employment insurance system provides for payment of 15 weeks of maternity benefits and 10 weeks of parental benefits, for a total of 25 weeks (six months). As of December 31, 2000, a maximum of 50 weeks of combined maternity and parental benefits is possible, and can be taken by one parent or shared between both. In addition, the number of hours of insurable earnings to qualify has dropped from 700 to 600 hours. This is equivalent to 30 hours of employment over 20 weeks. Parents may also work while they take the parental leave. They can earn $50 or up to 25% of their weekly benefits (the higher of the two amounts). Eligible parents are those whose children are born or adopted on December 31, 2000, or after that date.

Further, the Canadian Labour Code was amended to ensure that the period during which a job is protected under the parental leave provision is the same as the extended parental benefit period. Each province and territory is responsible for adapting its own labour code as necessary.

Source : Human Resources Development Canada

Disclaimer: The Canadian Women's Health Network and Network magazine provide general information not intended as a substitute for professional advice. If you feel you need medical advice, please see your health professional. The CWHN makes every effort to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information that appears on this web site.