Lets face it, women's bodies go through so many changes during pregnancy it would be next to impossible to keep up with all of them. From the belly to the butt; the widening of the hips as well as the bridge of the nose, bodies are preparing for a beautiful transformation unlike any other. At the forefront of all the changes is what some would consider a woman’s greatest asset, her "girls".
From about six weeks on, the part of the woman’s body is undergoing necessary alterations in preparation for that little bundle of joy. Hormones are at an all time high, and when it comes to what part of the body will be affected, they don’t discriminate. For some moms-to-be these changes are welcome. Other women are not too keen on the growing breasts.
Until recently the breasts were a part of pregnancy that never really stole the spotlight. With the current buzz about breast-feeding in the media, conversation about this topic is becoming less taboo. More and more women are feeling empowered by what their breasts can do, rather than embarrassed. Just knowing that your body has the power not only to create life, but to sustain it as well should equip any mama with a great deal of confidence. Whether large or small, standing at attention or saluting the floor, all breasts go through similar changes during pregnancy.
15 Large And In Charge
In the first trimester if you have noticed your bra is beginning to feel a tad bit snug early in your pregnancy, you're probably right. Its usually around six to eight weeks gestation that the woman's hormones, estrogen and progesterone cause the breasts to swell due to increased blood flow to the area. Many women find it extremely uncomfortable to wear their pre-pregnancy bras. Some breasts can increase by a full cup size!
A great investment, even this early in the game would be a comfortable, full coverage bra without an under wire. Every woman’s body is different, and because of this hormones will not affect everyone in the same way. Regardless, one thing is for certain - breast comfort should be at the top of your pregnancy priority list.
14 Tenderness And Hypersensitivity
With blood flow increasing to the breasts, sensitivity and often tenderness occurs. Fat stores in the breast are beginning to accumulate in preparation for breast feeding your little one. Although, increased breast sensitivity doesn't necessarily have to be a negative affect on the girls. In fact, for some moms-to-be the increased sensitivity can put a little pep in their step when it comes to intimacy with their significant other.
Keep in mind, comfort is definitely key during any pregnancy and if your heightened sensitivity causes you discomfort you should make sure your significant other is aware, because chances are they're new at this, too. Like we mentioned earlier wearing a comfortable and supportive bra, without an under wire, can make a world of difference.
13 Certain Areas Will Darken
Yes, you guessed it - our friends estrogen and progesterone are responsible for this pregnancy change as well. In addition to the other changes previously stated, these hormones also cause your body to produce more pigment. Certain individuals believe this pigment change is due to our evolution. Pigment changes can also occur other places on the pregnant woman's body, much like the linea nigra.
Some say due to the newborn baby having blurry vision until around three months, the areolas were made to get darker to assist the infant in locating the breast. This breast adaptation, much like the others is completely natural and harmless. Most postpartum mothers will find that the color of the areola will begin to lighten up shortly after they give birth.
12 Are Those Veins?
Overall blood flow is increased by about 1300 ML, or about 20-40% greater in a normal pregnancy! Its no wonder a pregnant woman's breasts can begin to look like a road map to the stars. I can specifically remember during one of my pregnancies, my darling husband asking me if I had been working out, because my veins were so prominent. A fair skinned woman's veins will be much more pronounced than a darker complected woman's.
You may even start to notice veins around you belly, hands, arms and legs starting to look larger. Even though it can be a little alien-ish to look at, this change is normal and will start to go away shortly after delivery for those who aren't breastfeeding. For those who are breastfeeding it is normal for the veins to stick around a little bit longer.
11 Mom's Own Anti-Bacterial
No, those are not pimples around your areola. These little bumps have several important functions during breastfeeding. Montgomery Glands produce an antimicrobial secretion that inhibits bacteria from growing around the areola where the baby will latch. Some even believe that these glands help the baby to find the breast when initiating breast feeding.
The scent of the secretion produced from Montgomery Glands is said to be similar to that of amniotic fluid, which your baby is undoubtedly familiar with. Although these glands produce an antimicrobial substance they can become infected. Moms should monitor for typical infection signs and symptoms such as redness, swelling, yellowing of substance. Any signs of infection should be reported to a physician.
10 Liquid Gold
Whether you are planning to breast or formula feed your baby, chances are that you have heard of colostrum and all the amazing benefits it packs for your baby. Typically the average pregnant woman's breasts begin to produce colostrum around the second trimester. Although some women may not be able to self express the colostrum this early in the game.
Colostrum is a sticky and sweet “milk” produced in the mammary glands. If you find yourself asking what all the hype is, it could be due to the fact that colostrum contains antibodies to protect your newborn. It's also sweet enough to keep your newborns sugar right where it should be. Colostrum is only produced until a woman's milk comes in, and it is much higher in both fat and protein content than regular breast milk.
9 They Become Erect
Early in pregnancy you may find yourself asking, who turned the high beams on? Your nipples can frequently become erect and elongated even without stimulation. Most women report this happening during the first and third trimester. Nipples, much like the breast tissue will also become extremely sensitive. This can become quite embarrassing, especially when it is noticeable through your clothing. A good way to camouflage your THO is by investing in a fully padded bra.
Women with larger breasts may not want to wear full padding, so another option would be to add a reusable cotton or disposable breast pad to your bra. Fear not mama bear, this too shall pass. The perkiness is yet another perk of hormones and your body preparing to nourish your little one.
8 The Real Deal
The first few days after delivery are usually a blur, and for first time moms who aren't sure what to expect this is a topic that I always made sure to cover as a Labor and Delivery nurse. Colostrum gives your baby exactly what it needs immediately following delivery. Many mothers use to say, “It just doesn't seem like enough”. Although there are circumstances where a newborn would need more, normally your “first milk” covers the bases. Around day three postpartum, the “ true milk” that will nourish your little one for possibly years to come makes its debut.
Mature milk is a combination of water, fat, carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals, amino acids, enzymes, and white cells. The process of milk coming in isn't always the same for every mama but typically it involves firm, tender, full breasts. The best way to prevent engorgement, and possibly mastitis, is to feed your baby every 2-3 hours around the clock. Over time your body will adjust to produce just the right amount of milk to provide for baby.
7 There Will Be Leaking
Yes, you read it right...breast leakage is something that most breastfeeding mama's will experience. Breast leakage gives real meaning to the saying, “no use crying over spilled milk”...the first time this happened to me I definitely cried! While its recommended that you feed your breastfed baby every 2-3 hours, lets face it, that first time they sleep more than 3 hours we are in absolute heaven.
That is until you wake up in a pool of milk after you let down in your sleep. This also occurs for working mothers who have every intention of pumping every 3 hours, but lets face it sometimes things just don't go as planned. Fortunately, breastfeeding has come a long way and there are actually devices you can place inside your bra over your nipples to catch every last drop!
6 Not Just Growing But Engorgement Too
As previously mentioned engorgement is something that can happen if you are breastfeeding. Engorgement is also part of the process in your milk drying up if you are formula feeding your baby. Whether breast or bottle feeding, engorgement can be a very uncomfortable piece of postpartum life. Breasts become overfull with milk, causing them to be firm, swollen, warm, and heavy. Your breasts may even feel lumpy to the touch in some occasions.
Breastfeeding your baby can prove difficult when engorgement is taking place, due to the heaviness of the breast and the flattening out of the nipple that can occur. In this case some mothers may want to hand express a small amount of milk out of the breast so it is easier for the baby to effectively latch and nurse.
5 Engorgement Vs Mastitis?
Fortunately Mastitis is not something that every mother experiences. This change in the breast is among the few conditions that are not normal. An infection of the breast tissue can manifest through fever, chills, extreme unrelieved breast pain, redness, swelling, fatigue and warmth of the breast. You may be asking yourself, how do I know if it's engorgement vs. mastitis?
Although one of the symptoms of engorgement can be a low grade fever, usually engorgement is relieved by simply breastfeeding or pumping. Mastitis more commonly occurs during the first 12 weeks after delivery. Mastitis is treated with an antibiotic, and in most cases it is completely safe to continue to breastfeed your baby. If you suspect at any point you might have mastitis, you should contact your physician or seek treatment.
4 Inevitable Sagging
As women, of course we are concerned with how pregnancy will affect our breasts in the long run. Many women relate sagging breasts directly to breast feeding, however, this is not necessarily the case. Throughout pregnancy, specific ligaments that support breast tissue are stretched, creating sagging. Sagging may become worse with each pregnancy, regardless of whether one breastfeeds or not.
Other factors that affect the fun bag sag are age, smoking, BMI, and breast size prior to becoming pregnant. All of these factors can affect the elasticity of the skin. A healthy diet, Drinking plenty of water, and certain breast muscle building exercises can help to counteract sagging. Some mothers may even choose to get reconstructive surgery or implants postpartum to reshape the breast.
3 Loss Of Sensation
The first few weeks of breastfeeding can leave you begging for any type of relief ! For some moms relief does come, but in the form of losing sensation from the nipples. When you think about it logically, the nipples are an extremely sensitive area on the body, dependent on the individual of course. Naturally, it only makes sense that after being tugged and pulled anywhere between 8-12 times a day your nipples would eventually go numb.
Some mothers report getting sensation back shortly after weaning baby from the breast. However, a percentage of mothers also report sensation never coming back or decreased sensation when compared to pre-pregnancy. Depending on how sensitive your nipple area was pre-pregnancy, it may also affect one's perception of sensation postpartum.
2 On The Other Hand, There Might Be Shrinkage
Breast size after pregnancy varies depending on the individual and their body type. While breasts typically grow at least a small amount during pregnancy and with breast feeding, there are no guarantees after pregnancy. Many women tend to find they end up with smaller breasts than before pregnancy. Different factors play in to this outcome such as, weight gain during pregnancy, normal breast size, and physical activity to name a few.
For some women the idea of breast shrinkage is welcomed and for others even the thought of having smaller breasts then before pregnancy is heart breaking. As previously stated many women choose to seek out reconstructive breast surgery after giving birth. Other women are able to build muscle to support breast tissue through various breast-ercises.
1 Mama's Tiger Marks
You see the commercials all the time, the woman with perfectly glowing skin stating that she owes her lack of stretch marks to some fancy lotion. The truth is no matter how much you moisturize, there are so many other contributing factors that determine if you will have stretch marks. Including, but not limited to genetics, weight, hydration/nutrition status, and ethnicity.
When women think stretch marks they often think of the stomach area, but much like hormones, stretch marks don't discriminate as to what area of the body they affect. The breasts are a very common area to be affected by stretch marks. Essentially a stretch mark is a tear in the skin caused by rapid growth, including weight gain in a specific area. About 90% of women are affected by stretch marks.
Sources: CDC.gov, MedelaBreastfeedingUS.com, LaLecheLeague.org, News-Medical.net