Breast Changes During Pregnancyby Katlyn Joy | August 9, 2010
One of the earliest signs of pregnancy is breast tenderness or soreness. And from there, the changes keep on coming.
Like most pregnancy symptoms, blame it on the hormones when breasts ache, are tender or sore or even have tingling, maybe painful sensations at times. You will also experience increased sensitivity which might be pleasurable at times, or really not so much.
The smaller-endowed moms-to-be may welcome this change, while those with a more ample profile may not be as thrilled. However, by as early as 6 weeks into the pregnancy your breasts may have grown a cup. This is due to a build up of fat and the growth of milk glands. The breast grow steadily throughout the first trimester, and may grow more towards the end of pregnancy as well before making one last dramatic increase once the milk comes in a few days after baby's birth.
The nipples and areolas will become noticeably darker, and larger too. Also they may stand out a bit more, and have bumps on the areola area. Also, you may look in the mirror one day and wonder when in the world you grew all those bright blue veins. Not to worry, this will not be a permanent aspect of motherhood.
All that stretching and growing can lead to itchy skin, and yes, stretch marks. Stretch marks all largely determined by heredity. If your mom has them, odds are not great for you to avoid them no matter the lotions or creams.
Sometime during the second trimester, your breasts are getting ready for the nursing process, and due to this they may leak colostrum or the pre-milk baby gets the first few days of life before your milk comes in. This may leak at random moments, or during sexual stimulation. It may be thick and yellow, or pale depending on when in the pregnancy it appears. If you never notice a drop, don't worry. That's normal, too.
Best Breast Care
Avoid using soap on nipples, as this will dry them out and exacerbate symptoms. Use warm water.
Invest in a good comfortable supportive bra. Consider wearing a sleep bra at night as well. As horrible as 24 hour bra-dom sounds, it might make you feel much more comfortable. Make sure the straps do not cut into your back or shoulders and that you are not smashing, but rather supporting, the girls.
A good maternity bra is quite adjustable and should grow with you. Cotton is preferable to synthetics, for the breathe-ability of the fabric.
Let your breasts air dry after your shower. Don't think you can toughen up your nipples in preparation for breast-feeding. Treat your breasts kindly!
If you find the leaking bothersome, get some breast pads.
Should you develop painful red lumps in your breast, suspect clogged milk ducts as the culprit. Apply warm compresses and gently massage. If it has not cleared up in a few days, or you develop a fever or flu-like symptoms, consult your physician. Occasionally medication might be necessary if an infection develops.
When baby arrives, don't be stunned at just how much your breasts swell when your milk comes in. If you are nursing, things will settle down naturally on their own through the nursing process. If you are not breastfeeding, discuss options to help your body adjust safely and comfortably to the process. Many health professionals recommend cabbage leaves applied to the breast for relief. Ask your doctor about it, and don't worry. It sounds silly, but it's well known.
Finally, don't despair that your body will never be the same. Your body is made to adjust to the needs of growing a baby, nourishing a baby, and going back to you (nearly) the same as before. Yes, there will probably be some changes, but they will not be as severe as the mirror might predict during pregnancy.Katlyn Joy is a freelance writer, and just graduated with a Master's of Arts in Creative Writing. She is mom to seven children, and lives in Denver, Colorado.
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