The Changes To A Woman’s Breasts During And After Pregnancy

Category: Posted on: 09/21/18 8:13 PM

A pregnant woman holding her stomach on a brown background.
Zoe Dobson writes:

Becoming pregnant and bringing new life into the world can be an exciting time for many women, but they may not know what to expect from their body as they go through the various changes that it takes to grow another human inside of you.

The following will provide a guide for women that are confused or concerned about the upcoming changes that will take place during and after their pregnancy.

Changes During Pregnancy

Breast 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 increased hormones that are circulating in your system in order to support the growth of your baby.

Darkened or more prominent veins

While you are pregnant, you have a higher volume of blood in your body in order to keep circulation flowing to your baby. This can affect other bodily functions such as an increased heart rate and the appearance of larger veins.

Changes to your nipples and areolas

During pregnancy, you can expect your nipples become more sensitive. Your areolas, which are the area surrounding your nipple can also enlarge. Lastly, you might see some small bumps appear on the surface of your nipples. All of these changes are completely expected and typically harmless for both you and your baby.

Breast lumps or leakingA pregnant woman holding her stomach against a pale blue background.

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 due to increased hormones and early milk production. Lumps in your breasts are never something to be taken lightly. While it is likely harmless, any sign of this should be examined by your doctor to determine the cause.

Changes in the Postpartum Period

Milk Influx

Immediately in the postpartum period you may only be making a few drops of colostrum at a time. This is normal and you should be comforted by the fact that 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 your milk to come in, and this will happen whether you decide to nurse your baby or feed them formula.

Your breasts will become engorged will milk. They will be much larger than they were even just a few hours previously. They will also be extremely tender and sore. If you are nursing your baby, natural breastfeeding as well as pumping should be continued to help alleviate some of the pressure in your breasts. 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 to get what’s called mastitis. This is when a milk duct becomes clogged and inflamed and infection can set in. The best course of treatment is to see your doctor right away. They will likely prescribe you medications to help 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 women’s breasts during pregnancy can result in sagging around the breast area and stretch marks.

As a result 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 surgery, it is important to first consult a professional in order to weigh the risks.

More 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.