During pregnancy, the body goes through a number of changes to accommodate and provide for the newborn, and thus breast care is essential. Changes in breasts and the areolas or the area around the nipple are a definitive sign and part of pregnancy. Therefore, if proper care is not taken, these changes may lead to discomfort or significantly change the shape of the breasts after pregnancy.
Common Breast Changes During Pregnancy
Pregnancy leads to changes in the appearance and feel of the breasts in a number of ways, many of which can even cause discomfort. Here are some common breast changes that are noticed during pregnancy –
Growth and tenderness
The breast growth can be as much as 1.5 sizes bigger during pregnancy and feel tender, sore, and more sensitive than usual.
Darkening of nipples and areolas
The hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause the nipples and areolas which is the skin around the nipples, to become dark.
There is leakage of colostrum which is a thick, yellowish substance from the breasts.
Darkening of veins
The veins along the breasts may darken and become prominent due to increased blood supply to the breasts.
Enlargement of nipples
The nipples and areolas tend to become larger and stick out more during pregnancy.
7 Tips For Breast Care During Pregnancy
Some tips for proper breast care during pregnancy that can incorporate into everyday regimen are –
Get the right bra
Since the breasts continue to increase in size starting from the first trimester, you may have to change the bra size a few times. Always remember to wear the right sized bra to avoid any kind of suffocation and discomfort. Avoid tight bras and bras with underwire. Instead, opt for softly padded cotton bras. Underwired bras tend to affect milk production by blocking the milk ducts. Also, look for bras that offer the right back support which is essential for growing breasts.
Massage your breasts
Nipples may get dry and crack during pregnancy. So, it is important to retain moisture around the nipple area. This can be done by using olive oil or coconut oil and gently massaging the breasts and nipples before bathing. Massaging the breasts with coconut oil can also aid in blood circulation. It helps lift them up, keep them firm, and prevent sagging of the breasts that is common during pregnancy.
During the last trimester, nipples tend to leak colostrum which is a yellow milk substance. This can happen often and it is important that to change the bra to avoid the nipples being too wet, as this may lead to cracks and infections. Also, breast pads can be used to keep the nipples dry. Remember to wash the nipples regularly to prevent the liquid from forming any crust around them.
No soap on the nipple
Always ensure to not use any soap on the nipple during the daily baths. Soap tends to dry out the nipples and it can cause cracking of the nipple area.
After stepping out of the shower, it is a good idea to apply some moisturizing cream on the nipples if feeling too dry.
Some women may suffer from sore nipples that can be hard to tolerate. Get some nipple protectors which can be used as a pad between the clothing and the nipples to prevent any soreness from being aggravated.
Make simple exercises such as arm rotations, a part of the everyday workout to prevent the breasts from sagging during pregnancy.
While some of the changes in the breasts come as a part of pregnancy, there are others that can be avoided with proper care and precautions. Taking the following precautionary measures can help in the breast care routine during pregnancy.
- Always use warm water to wash the breasts. Make sure to use water that is below 45 degrees celsius to avoid harm.
- Change the bra on a regular basis, at least once a day. This will prevent discomfort due to sweat and leakage from the nipples.
- Check the breasts every day for any changes. If you notice any irregular changes that cause worry, do not hesitate to contact the doctor.
Pregnancy can be seen as a stressful time for new mothers and many women seldom find time to care for the bodies. However, ignoring parts of the body like breasts during this time can make them sag and look out of shape. Allotting a little time every day to take care of the breasts and nipples can go a long way during pregnancy and keep the post-pregnancy body in a good shape for many years to come.
- breast care during pregnancy – pubmed (nih.gov)
- breast care in pregnancy – jogn nursing