If you thought pregnancy was all about that big bump to house your tiny one(s), you’re probably wrong. Because one other quite visible and often painful phenomenon is the enlargement of the breasts. These twosome not only grow beyond expectation, but also become very tender and ultrasensitive. Oh yeah! If you were under the impression that all this happens post-delivery and only when you begin or discontinue breastfeeding, then it’s time to correct the misconceptions.
Pregnancy is confirmed not only by the urine test and puking symptoms, but one common and earliest symptom is sore and swollen breasts which are tingly and heavy. Though breast pain and protuberance, in a played down manner does occur in many women during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy simply amplifies its causes and effects.
Women experience breast pain and sensitive nipples right from the first trimester by around week 4 to week 7, which can continue through the second and third trimester as well. Let’s get a clear idea of what to expect and how to deal with this great discomfort because you can’t totally avoid it.
8 Whom to Blame?
If there was one thing you could point the finger to for this uneasiness and ache, then the culprit is the hormones. Well, not one, but both estrogen and progesterone play an important role in the tenderness and extra sensitivity in breasts. Once gestation sets in, these hormones rush through the whole body and one of the most sensitive parts are the breast tissues which get affected immensely.
Many other factors have their own share, though. For example, the body deposits extra fat into the breast and also the blood flow increases during pregnancy. All this is part of the body’s preparations to nurture the baby. Your body is just laying the groundwork to make the breast milk to feed the child you’re growing inside you.
We agree that the lady experiencing this discomfort is not at peace, she wants to avoid it, get over it or take the edge off it. But she needs to understand that it is quite normal (unless the pain is very unusual, which might result in the need for medical intervention) and is only for the greater good of the baby and the mother.
7 What to Expect
Along with the tenderness, you might experience a few more changes in the breasts.
- Nipple Shootout
Your breasts are already heavy and bulging and you can surely expect the nipples to stick out, making them nothing less than seductive. But warn your partner! They are simply tender and so sensitive that a mere brush against you dress might make you yell in pain.
- Bistered areolas
The areolas (the dark area around the nipple) look as though they are excessively tanned. You will see them getting darker, growing in size and even start getting spotted with each passing month.To top it all, you will start seeing tiny little bumps on the areolas which are Montgomery's tubercles. This is nothing but the sweat glands which are meant to produce certain oil to lubricate the area and keep it moist and damp.
- A network of waterways
If you look at your breasts during the pregnancy period, it might seem as though you’re looking at a map of distributaries which branch out from the main river. Yes, the bluish green veins that lead to the nipples branch out and become more prominent and pronounced under a thin layer of skin. These veins are meant to carry fluids rich in nutrients to the baby.
6 Punctured Breasts
Yes, I mean it. Your breasts are meant to feed the baby once it’s born. But, with the third month of pregnancy, these breasts starts producing a special type of milk called colostrum, rich in nutrients and antibodies. Right from the beginning, your body wants to make sure everything is working as expected.
Sometimes even during the early months of pregnancy, the nipples discharge clear fluid. As you reach the last trimester, these two milk producing machines make the breasts heavy and might get leaky and you can see the watery milk oozing out of them.
Wearing a breast pad under the bra also helps to a certain extent. They guard the nipples against the lining and stitches of the bra. If your breasts are already leaking, then you’ll need the breast pad to soak that in. Always use a cotton pad rather than a synthetic one as the former lets the nipples breathe and absorb the moisture better.
But if you don’t leak at all throughout the pregnancy, don’t panic. Some women experience this even before the third trimester and some don’t leak at all. This is not a test to measure or determine if those boobs will yield milk after the baby is born. You are just saved from the trouble of leaky boobs!
5 The Right Fit
With the ever increasing weight and size, your breasts are yearning for some support. The best you can do is use a bra of the right size (actually a little bigger size) to accommodate the heavy n growing bust. This helps your breasts to stay away from drooping and stretching.
An underwired bra is supposed to give good support, but at this time, it is best to avoid it, as it might not be comfortable. Go for a cotton seamless bra as it will let your bust breathe and the seamless feature will avoid brushing of stitches against the bust especially the nipples.
Make sure you wear a supportive bra especially during exercise. It is important to use a sports bra as your breasts are heavier. Though it is important to get a good sleep during your pregnancy, the discomfort and heaviness in the breast might make you restless and might not let you go braless even at night. Invest in a nice, neat sleep bra for that sound sleep.
With the bra being your best companion during the pregnancy, you need to make sure it takes care of them well. Always choose a couple of maternity bras (not necessarily feeding ones) with one thing in mind, as the pregnancy progresses, your breasts will get bigger and chest will get wider. So pick the ones that can stretch a bit (and not the very tight fitting ones), so that your boobs get some space to grow and breathe and at the same time get that much-needed support and comfort.
4 How Much Intimacy is Right?
Intimacy during pregnancy period might simply grow by leaps and bounds. While some women don’t feel like having intercourse, others can’t get enough. In the case of a woman who doesn’t want to be intimate, she’ll surely expect hugs, kisses and lots of cuddling from her man. But wait, with such discomfort and sensitive breasts, will you be able to enjoy even a hug from him? Surely not. Because he might not know how you feel or what the situation is.
So the first step is to make him aware of your condition. He should be made to understand the extent of uneasiness and pain you have so that he can be careful while expressing his love to you. This will also help him avoid any physical contact with your sensitive parts without hurting his feelings.
The slightest touch or hug might make you jump in pain and this might lead to a halt in intimacy as your partner might not even know what went wrong. He will always be skeptic and might feel bad that he hurt you. So keep the communication lines open, let him know how you feel and what are the dos and don’ts he should follow.
3 Mellow Down the Effect
Uneasiness and discomfort will be part of the game when it comes to pregnancy. So if your breasts feel very tingly and extra sensitive with the slightest touch or even the rubbing of clothes against them, don’t worry. We have a couple of tricks to help you soothe them and keep them happy.
A warm or cold shower (depends on which one is comfy for you) a couple of times in a day is good to calm the nerves and relax the breasts. Be sure to rinse them gently with a slow flow of water. Pat dry the breast softly with a soft smooth cloth, as rough clothes and rigorous rubbing will only add to the pain.
If you’re unable to take a shower frequently, there are other options available to cool off that weird soreness and ache. A cold cabbage leaf (big enough!) will cover the whole bust, numbing the sensitive nipples and thus bestowing the much-needed relief.
An ice pack is another great idea the boobs will love. Pack a small bag with peas or corn and freeze them. Use this as a cold pack to sooth your breasts as you unwind on the couch or the bed. You can even get some tiny silicone filled packs which can be refrigerated and slipped under your bra for that long lasting chill minus the heaviness of ice packs! The best part is they’re reusable and last long enough to serve you.
2 Word to the Wise
All throughout this discussion we gave you a positive feeling that the sore nipples and sensitive breasts are just a common symptom in pregnancy, but we also want you to know where to draw the line. If you feel the tenderness in the breast is far beyond normal and you have some redness, itching or rashes around the nipple, then you need help. If there is shooting pain in the breast either one or both, you should inform your doctor about it.
Once your breasts start producing milk, there are chances that the milk can get clogged in the ducts leading to the nipple and the ducts getting infected. This might also lead to lumps, which generally go away with a warm massage or a hot shower. But if the lump persists, it could be a symptom of a cyst or a fibroid. So please get in touch with your doctor to make sure nothing is wrong or to get the right help at the right time.
Phew! I’m sure, after reading this you’re well informed about the changes in your bosoms which might be the only source of nourishment to your little one for quite some time. Though you have escaped your monthly periods for nine long months, the few symptoms like tenderness and soreness will still be your companions throughout the pregnancy.
With our time tested tips and precautions, we hope you will be able to keep yourself and your bosoms happy and comfortable. Don’t forget to inform your spouse so that he can support you through this beautiful period, and prepare yourself for the even more beautiful journey ahead called motherhood.
In the end, all these little discomforts and pains will vanish; it will be the moment when you have the first glimpse of your bundle of joy. So keep going there is light at the end of the tunnel!