Pregnancy brings a lot of physical, hormonal and emotional change in every woman’s life. These changes differ in every woman and should not be compared. Transition in breast and nipple is one of the major changes experienced during every pregnancy. These changes may occur at an early or later stage and the changes are constant throughout the pregnancy. There are many reasons for changes in breasts and nipples during pregnancy.
Reasons for changes in breasts and nipples during pregnancy
During pregnancy, breasts experience an increase in their physiology at a rapid rate. A small breasted woman also tends to have a sudden increase in the size of her breasts at the time of pregnancy. To prepare the body for breastfeeding, breasts need to change their size. The breast tissue develops and enlarges constantly as the estrogen and progesterone levels increase and milk ducts enlarge to be able to produce and store milk for infant feeding. If these changes do not take place, it is impossible for the breasts to cope up with feeding.
Also read: How to effectively treat swollen breasts in 10 simple ways
Changes developed in breasts during pregnancy
Experiencing changes in the size of the breast during early pregnancy can be very similar to that of premenstrual symptoms of breast change. However, during pregnancy, these changes do not stop unlike the premenstrual symptom and continue throughout gestation.
Some changes in the breast through pregnancy can be as follows:
- Breasts start to feel tender and sensitive accompanied by regular soreness.
- There is a sense of sudden heaviness in the breasts.
- Experiencing a burning sensation in the breasts.
- As the skin stretches, it forms stretch marks and may cause a lot of itching on the breasts.
- Blue or green veins start appearing on the breasts and become more visible during the later stage of pregnancy.
- Development of cleavage takes place as the size increases.
- During the last weeks of pregnancy, there can be a leakage of a thick yellow substance from the breasts. This is called ‘colostrum’ which is a nutritious first milk that helps build the baby’s immunity which is eventually received by the baby during breastfeeding. However, this leakage is not common for all the would-be mothers.
- At times, there are lumps formed in the breasts. These lumps are common during pregnancy but should not be avoided if they feel abnormal. It is best to visit your doctor once and take an opinion.
The milk ducts can tend to get blocked forming red lumps on the breast which can be reduced with a gentle massage or warm water towel compressions.
Also read: Helpful Tips For Breastfeeding With Flat And Inverted Nipples
Changes developed in nipples during pregnancy
- Nipples start to feel hypersensitive to cold.
- The nipples and areola increase in its size and gets darker in appearance.
- There can also be a growth of hair on the nipples.
- A pimple like structures called Montgomery’s Tubercles may form on the nipples. They are not painful and are formed to prepare the breasts for feeding. As long as they are not painful and not septic you need not especially go for a consultation.
Heat rashes during pregnancy
Increase in size of breasts can lead to heaviness and rubbing of the skin with each other. This leads to the formation of excessive sweat and heat and its friction may cause a formation of heat rashes underneath the breasts. Heat rashes can be a cause of changes in breasts and nipples during pregnancy.
It is very important to take care of this problem as bacterial infections may occur very easily especially during summer as sweat and heat both can aggravate during this time. Some precautions like showering twice a day, pat drying with a soft towel, using anti dermal powder can help keep the area dry and sweat free.
Also read: How to prevent baby biting nipples during breastfeeding
Suggested tips to take care of your breasts
- Consume adequate water. Staying hydrated avoids water retention due to which there is pain and soreness in the breasts.
- Always maintain a healthy diet. The body is accustomed to taking care of itself until it is served with the right nutrients. Consuming less salt helps in reducing lower breast problems in pregnancy.
- Try to get plenty of rest and sleep. It is very important for the body to grow healthfully and restore energy throughout the pregnancy.
- Wear a well-supported bra to avoid sagging of the breasts. This will also help in avoiding rashes on the skin.
- Keep the skin well moisturised to avoid itching.
- Always make sure to wear a bra which fits correctly as per the size of your breasts. Use different bras for different activities like sports bra while exercising, nursing bras for extra comfort and support etc.
- Do not use soaps that make the skin dry or body washes with harsh chemicals as it will cause further sensitivity to the breasts.
- Use Lukewarm water while having a shower and avoid hot water bath/spas. Hot water can make your skin extra dry and may cause complications to you and your baby.
- Make sure to gently pat dry and do not excessively rub the breasts or nipples.
Also read: How To Use A Breast Pump – A Helpful Guide
Changes in breasts and nipples during pregnancy are usually quite common. But it is completely normal to have very few, or no changes experienced physically to the breasts. The absence of an increase in size, leaky breasts, soreness can also support a healthy pregnancy and healthy breastfeeding.
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