Real Talk: Here’s What Pregnancy Will Do to Your Breasts

Confused or concerned about the changes to your breasts that will take place during and after pregnancy? Brace yourself, because here are a few things your doctor may not have mentioned to you yet.

Heightened tenderness

One of the main complaints women have while pregnant is that their breasts are sore and tender to the touch. This happens as a result of the increase in hormones that are circulating in your system in order to support you baby’s growth.

Darkened, more prominent veins

Your blood pressure and heart rate increase when you’re pregnant, since your developing foetus needs a constant supply of nutrients. This can make the veins in your breasts more visible.

Changes to your nipples and areolas

During pregnancy, you can expect your nipples to become more sensitive. Your areolas — the area surrounding your nipple — may also enlarge and darken. You might also notice small bumps on the surface of your nipples. All of these changes are completely normal and typically harmless for both you and your baby.

Breast lumps

This is a sign that your body is getting ready to produce milk for your baby. Lumps may be due to an enlarged or clogged milk duct, and leaking is expected to increase the closer you get to your due date. This is caused by hormonal fluctuations and early milk production. While this isn’t necessarily a cause for concern, lumps should be examined by your doctor to rule out anything more serious.

Milk influx

Immediately after birth, you may only produce a few drops of colostrum at a time. This is normal — you’re feeding your baby more than enough as their stomachs are very small at this stage. Within the first few days, you should expect milk production to increase, even if you choose to forego breastfeeding.

Significant increase in breast size

Your breasts will become engorged with milk, and be much larger than they were even just a few hours previously. They will also be extremely tender and sore. If you’re nursing your baby, natural breastfeeding as well as pumping should be continued to help alleviate some of the pressure. Otherwise, try not to stimulate your nipples too much as this can relay a message to your body that you need to produce more milk.

Infection

As your milk comes in, or even after you have been breastfeeding for months, you have the potential of suffering from what’s called mastitis. This is when a milk duct becomes clogged and inflamed. If infection sets in, the best course of treatment is to see your doctor right away. They will likely prescribe you medications and can advise you on how best to continue breastfeeding your baby.

Sagging

Breastfeeding definitely has its perks, such as increased immune system benefits for both mom and baby, but there can also be downfalls. The drastic increase and then decrease of womens breasts during pregnancy can result in sagging around the breast area and stretch marks.

Despite doing what they feel is best for their child’s nutrition, many women are left with a depleted body image and self-confidence. Fortunately for those feeling this way, regular exercise, moisturizing and hydration can help improve these issues. For women considering a more permanent fix such as non-invasive treatments or mastopexy surgery, it’s important to first consult a professional in order to weigh the risks.

Leaking

Leaking can happen after delivery and at any point during breastfeeding. Your milk supply may be more than your baby requires and thus leaks. In addition, your body may confuse cues from other babies and produce a letdown reflex, which is when your body starts sending milk out of your nipple. This is typically triggered when your own baby is crying and ready to eat, but early on in breastfeeding, it can happen when other babies cry too.

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