Breast and Nipple Care During Pregnancy
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Pregnancy is when your body goes through several changes to accommodate and provide for the new baby. Changes in the breasts and the areolas, or the area around the nipples, are a definitive part of pregnancy. However, if proper care is not taken, these changes may cause discomfort or significantly alter the shape of your breasts after pregnancy.
Though you may have a busy time during pregnancy, preparing to welcome your baby home, a few short tips and routines will help you take care of your body, prevent any discomfort caused due to the changes in your body, and enjoy pregnancy at the same time.
Common Breast Changes During Pregnancy
Pregnancy tends to change the appearance and feel of your breasts in several ways, many of which can even cause discomfort. Here are some common breast changes you may notice during pregnancy.
1. Growth and Tenderness
Your breasts can grow as much as 1.5 sizes bigger during pregnancy and feel tender, sore, and more sensitive than usual.
2. Darkening of Nipples and Areolas
The hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause the nipples and areolas, which is the skin around your nipples, to become dark.
3. Colostrum Leakage
You may experience colostrum leakage, a thick, yellowish substance, from the breasts.
4. Darkening of Veins
The veins along your breasts may darken and become prominent due to increased blood supply to the breasts.
5. Enlargement of Nipples
The nipples and areolas will become larger and stick out more during pregnancy.
Tips for Breast and Nipple Care in Pregnancy
Most women tend to ignore breast care during pregnancy, which can make it tough to de Here are a few tips for proper breast care during pregnancy that you can incorporate into your everyday regimen.
1. Get the Right Bra
Since your breasts continue to increase in size starting from the first trimester, you may have to change your bra size a few times. Always remember to wear the right-sized bra to avoid suffocation and discomfort. Avoid tight bras and bras with underwires. Instead, opt for softly padded cotton bras. Underwired bras tend to hamper milk production by blocking the milk ducts. You can also look for bras that offer the right back support, which is essential for your growing breasts.
Your nipples may get dry and crack during pregnancy. Hence, it is important to retain moisture around the nipple area. You can use olive or coconut oil and gently massaging the nipples before the bath. Massaging the breasts with coconut oil can also aid in blood circulation, lift them up, keep them firm, and prevent sagging of the breasts, which is common during pregnancy.
3. Maintain Hygiene
Around the sixteenth week of pregnancy (the fourth month), stage one of lactogenesis (the beginning of breast milk production) starts. Your mammary glands begin preparing to produce milk and colostrum (the newborn’s first milk). Nipples tend to leak colostrum, especially during the last trimester. This can happen often, and you must change your bra to avoid the nipples being too wet, which may lead to cracks and infections. You can also use breast pads to keep your nipples dry. Also, remember to wash your nipples regularly to prevent the liquid from forming a crust around it.
4. No Soap on the Nipple
Always ensure not to use soap on the nipple during your daily baths. Soap tends to dry out the nipples, and it can lead to cracking of the nipple area.
5. Moisturising Creams
After you step out of the shower, it is a good idea to apply some moisturising cream on the nipples if they feel too dry.
6. Nipple Protectors
Some women may suffer from sore nipples that can be hard to bear. You can get some nipple protectors, which can be used as a pad between the clothing and the nipples to prevent the soreness from being aggravated.
7. Use Organic Coconut Oil
Organic coconut oil can be a beneficial and natural solution for breast and nipple care during pregnancy. It possesses moisturising and anti-inflammatory properties that can help prevent dryness, itchiness, and irritation. Gently massage organic coconut oil onto your breasts and nipples after a shower or bath.
8. Use Breast Pads or Nursing Pads
Invest in soft and absorbent breast or nursing pads to place inside your bra. These pads can help absorb any colostrum or breast milk leakage, keeping your nipples and bra dry and preventing irritation.
Precautions You Should Take
While some changes in the breasts come as part and parcel of pregnancy, others can be avoided with proper care and precautions. Taking the following precautionary measures can help you in your breast care routine during pregnancy.
- Always use warm water to wash your breasts. However, ensure to use water that is below 45 degrees Celsius to avoid harm to your baby.
- Change your bra regularly, at least once in a day. This prevents discomfort due to sweat and leakage from the nipples.
- Check your breasts every day for any changes. If you notice any irregular changes that cause you to worry, do not hesitate to contact your doctor.
- Make simple exercises, like arm rotations, a part of your everyday workout to prevent the breasts from sagging during pregnancy.
- Avoid exposure to extreme temperatures. While washing your breasts, always use warm water, but ensure the water temperature remains below 45 degrees Celsius to prevent potential harm to your baby.
- Check your breasts daily for changes. When cold or sexually stimulated, flat nipples do not stick out or protrude out much, chances are that you have inverted nipples. On stimulation, inverted nipples pull inward and appear flat, dimpled, or indented in the middle. In these cases, nipples provide a poor latch for nursing. After consulting your doctor, you might consider wearing breast shells if your nipples are flat or inverted. Your breasts will feel light pressure from the shells, drawing your nipples outward.
1. Should You Touch Your Nipple While Pregnant?
It is generally safe to touch your nipples while pregnant. However, handling them gently is important to avoid discomfort or irritation. Always wash your hands before touching your nipples to maintain hygiene. Nipple stimulation can also lead to increased oxytocin which can trigger labour pains.
2. Why Should You Take Care of Your Breasts When Pregnant?
Prenatal care for the breasts is crucial since it helps with breastfeeding after delivery. Proper care helps maintain skin health, prevents dryness and cracking, reduces discomfort or sensitivity, promotes good hygiene, and prepares your breasts for breastfeeding. Lack of care for the breasts during pregnancy could result in reduced milk production, mastitis, and lumps while breastfeeding.
3. When to Start Cleaning Your Nipples While Pregnant?
It is recommended to start cleaning your nipples during pregnancy as part of your regular hygiene routine. Gentle cleaning with warm water and a mild, fragrance-free cleanser can help maintain cleanliness and prevent sweat, dirt, or bacteria buildup.
4. Can You Apply Vaseline on Your Nipples in Pregnancy?
You can apply a small amount of Vaseline or a similar non-irritating nipple ointment to your nipples during pregnancy after consulting your doctor. This can help maintain moisture, prevent dryness, and provide a protective barrier. However, it’s always advisable to consult with your healthcare provider before using any specific products.
5. When to Massage Breasts During Pregnancy?
Breast massage can be beneficial during pregnancy. It is generally safe to start with gentle breast massages during the second trimester or as your healthcare provider recommends. Regular massages can help improve blood circulation, reduce tenderness, promote relaxation, and prepare your breasts for breastfeeding.
Pregnancy can be stressful for new mothers, and many women seldom find time to care for their bodies. However, ignoring parts of your body, such as the breasts, during this time can make them sag and look out of shape. Allotting a little time daily to care for your breasts and nipples can go a long way during pregnancy and keep your post-pregnancy body in good shape for many years.
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