From the very moment conception occurs, various changes start to take place in your body. One of the many areas you will experience changes is in your breasts. So when you see your breasts expanding, feeling sore or the nipples getting darker, don’t be surprised because these are natural symptoms of pregnancy.
What causes breast changes to occur
Even while fertilization of the egg is taking place, many women will experience a difference in their bodies. The hormone duos estrogen and progesterone start the process of preparing your body to support the developing baby. The hormones will increase blood flow to the breasts and you will experience a number of symptoms. Changes will take place right throughout your pregnancy and those in your breasts are just some of them.
Breast changes during pregnancy
- Tenderness and hypersensitivity
By this you would have gotten used to experiencing tender breasts that usually signal that your period is near. Since you’ve become pregnant however, your breasts feel really sore and painfully tender and tingly, making you want to wince if something brushes against them. Breasts tenderness is nothing to worry about and if you know you are likely to get pregnant, this is one of the first signs of pregnancy. Tender breasts come as a result of increased flow of blood to the breasts. In addition, your breasts are getting ready for milk production and the milk ducts are becoming enlarged. You will experience this extreme in tenderness from about 4 – 7 weeks pregnant and it will last until the end of the first trimester.
- Growth and enlargement
Whether you have large, medium, or very small breasts, pregnancy means larger ones. From around 4 weeks pregnant you will find your breasts growing in size at a fast rate. This is a result of fat building in the breasts and the milk ducts increasing in size. Of course, pregnancy hormones do have a role to play in all of this as they cause more blood to get to the reproductive organs including the breasts. By the end of the first trimester you could be reaching for bras that are a cup size larger to make you more comfortable. In fact by the time you are nine months pregnant your breasts may be contributing two more pounds to your body weight.
- Nipple changes
Changes in your nipples will also be one of the first signs to indicate that you are pregnant. Pregnancy hormones will cause your nipples to get larger and become firmer so your baby can latch on better.
- Bumps on your areolas
You will also notice that the area around the nipple, the areola becomes wider and darker than usual and little raised bumps known as Montgomery’s Tubercles appear on them. These bumps can range from a few to many. They are only sebaceous or sweat glands that produce an oily substance to lubricate the areas to prevent them from drying out and cracking during pregnancy and while you are breastfeeding.
- Veins become prominent
As your breasts get enlarged from more blood supply to them, you will notice dark blue veins running in all directions under the skin. They help carry food supply between mother and baby. The veins will not be as prominent after birth or during breastfeeding.
- Breast leakage
As your pregnancy progresses, your breasts will produce a thick yellow substance called colostrum which sometimes is squirted onto your shirt if your breasts are massaged or pressed against an object. Some pregnant women will only notice it as a dried substance on their nipples. Others may not see any of this at all. Colostrum is usually the first milk that your baby will drink right after she is born and is full of protein and antibodies to protect your newborn from bacteria and other infectious agents after birth. Colostrum starts producing between the second and third trimester.
- Stretch marks appear and itching
As your breasts become larger, the skin around them will stretch to accommodate more blood that flows through them. Like other parts of the body that will experience enlargement and stretching such as your tummy, your breasts may develop stretch marks. You may also experience itching as the skin stretches and become dry.
Caring for your breasts
Your breasts begin to play an important role in your pregnancy from the time of conception. Changes will take place, some of them with discomforts; but there are things that you can do for relief. You will need to take care of your breasts because they are going to be your baby’s feeding machine for a while. So here are some of the ways that you can take care of them:
- Let your partner know how tender your breasts are and that he should take special care during lovemaking or even when hugging. If your breasts should feel unusually engorged, you may be having clogged milk ducts. You could apply warm compresses, baths and massages and they’ll be cleared in a few days. However, if your breast engorgement is accompanied by fever, aches and plain feeling sick, consult your doctor. You may be having an infection.
- Start shopping for bras with larger cup sizes because your breasts will want more room to grow and breathe. Choose bras with broad cup bands without any underwires. Also, broad shoulder straps and adjustable closures will help to support your breasts and relieve any strain to your back. Look for soft materials preferably cotton that will allow your breasts to breathe. You will find maternity bras also that are great for night-time wear.
- If you are one who has leaky breasts, try using breast pads. You can opt for disposable or washable ones. Only ensure that your breasts get to dry out especially after a bath, at nights, and if you are not going out.
- Relieve itchy breasts and stretch marks by using a moisturizing cream and cocoa butter to rub on dry areas. Try to avoid using soaps that can be harsh that can cause the skin to dry out even more. Remember also that the glands in the areolas produce their own oil.
Within the nine months that you are pregnant your breasts will change as they make ready for the baby to be born. Be aware of the changes that will occur and take steps to care for your breasts since they will serve your baby as she grows.