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Physical Changes In Pregnancy - Our Breasts

Breast changes are common in pregnancy and start right from the beginning. Many times it can be the first symptom that we are pregnant. Breast changes can begin to occur as soon as the first week of pregnancy.

First Trimester Changes:

Early in pregnancy, your breasts begin to grow and change to prepare for breast-feeding your baby. They will feel firm, tender, heavy, or tingly along with nipple sensitivity or tenderness. These changes occur due to increased pregnancy hormones that are produced after conception. Due to increase in blood production, blue veins in the breast may become visible. These veins are responsible for bringing blood supply to milk ducts in the breast tissue. 

Nursing While Pregnant Note: It is safe to continue feeding your little one. There is no increased risk of miscarriage. Your youngster will get all the milk they need. Your nipples may be sore at this point, make sure to give yourself a break as needed. 

How to ease breast tenderness:

  • You can apply wet or dry heat to the tissue. Use of a rice sock or warm wash cloth and help to take away the ache and tenderness

  • Invest in a good supportive bra. It is important to find a good bra without underwire. Underwire can compress breast ducts and cause clogged ducts and mastitis after baby is born

  • Use vitamin E oil to hydrate skin and tissue

  • It is never too soon to start your practice relaxation breaths and calming exercises, this may be a good way of starting the process

Second Trimester Changes:

Second trimester comes with more changes. Around 20 weeks of pregnancy you may notice lumps in your breast, no cause for concern, your milk ducts begin to open. They may be noticeable with touch of the breast. You may also notice that your areola (the dark circle around your nipple) may darken. They will also have small bumps that may be more noticeable. These are Montgomery glands, they are responsible for producing a think clear fluid that protects the areola and the nipple. This fluid helps to hydrate the nipple. It is antibacterial and antiviral. Colostrum, the first milk, may also start to appear. It may be secreted at any time. It may also dry and cause the nipple to appear crusty. No need to wash away, the body will reabsorb it. 

Nursing While Pregnant: This is about the time your milk may transition into colostrum. You may find that your little one has a preference to nurse more frequently or may stop nursing all together. You may find that your breast milk reduces, however for some lucky people, there is little difference. Nursing at this point may become quite painful. Don't feel bad about limiting access to the breast if you are struggling with discomfort during feedings. This will get better once baby is born.

Third Trimester Changes:

You may notice significant growth and changes in this trimester. It is common to see the breasts increase up to a 1/2-1 cup size. Relaxin, a pregnancy hormone, can cause the breast tissue to relax and elongate. Stretch marks may also occur due to this hormone. You may notice an increase in discharge. It is also normal to have no discharge. You can attempt to collect colostrum, however it is best to collect colostrum after 37 weeks of pregnancy. Nipple stimulation can encourage labor. It is normal to not be able to collect colostrum at this time. Colostrum will reproduce until baby is born. Breastmilk transition and mature breastmilk production begins after the placenta is delivered.

Nursing While Pregnant Note: In the third trimester it is common to feel some fatigue, it is good to try and rest as often as possible. Make sure you are getting plenty of water, your baby needs it and so does your toddler for breastfeeding. One of the great benefits to breastfeeding into the third trimester is it may help you achieve labor easier and quicker. Oxytocin is produced during breastfeeding and is the hormone to encourages labor. 

How to prepare for postpartum

  • When purchasing a bra, purchase one or two supportive bras that fit at this moment. Wait to purchase more until your mature milk arrives. Women can go up to a cup size or two after the mature milk arrive.

  • Purchase breastfeeding aides. It is helpful to have silverette silver nipple cups, nipple balm, and supplies for pumping and storing ready before baby arrives.

  • Setup support for your breastfeeding relationship. Having a family member, a lactation specialist, or a peer counselor is vital to success in breastfeeding. Consider connecting with a mom's postpartum and breastfeeding group, this helps to build community, make friends, and find much needed to build community, make friends, and find much needed help.

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