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Pregnancy is the time when your body goes through a number of 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 and also alter the shape of your breasts significantly after pregnancy.
It is evident that pregnancy is sure to be a busy time, but 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.
Breast Changes During Pregnancy
Hormonal changes in the body during pregnancy will cause your breasts to feel tighter, fuller and grow bigger, at least by a couple of cups. Since your body is preparing your breasts to feed your baby, the milk and fat glands develope, contributing to the increase in your breast size. The breasts may grow up to 1.5 times bigger than their normal size during pregnancy.
The nipples also tend to become tender and sensitive. The areolas, the dark area around the nipples, become slightly darker than before. The nipples may also tend to crack or swell in some cases.
Tips for Breast and Nipple Care in Pregnancy
Most women tend to ignore breast care routine during pregnancy which makes it difficult for them to tend to their breasts later on. Here are a few tips for proper breast care during pregnancy you can incorporate into your everyday regimen.
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 underwire; 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 you the right back support which can be necessary due to your growing breasts.
Nipples may get dry and crack during pregnancy. Hence, it is important to retain moisture around the nipple area. You can do this by using olive oil or coconut oil and gently massaging the nipples before a bath. Massaging the breasts with coconut oil can also aid in blood circulation, lift them up and keep them firm and prevent sagging of the breasts that is common during pregnancy.
Nipples tend to leak colostrum which is a yellow milk substance, especially during the last trimester. This can happen often and it is important that you change your bra to avoid the nipples being too wet, as this 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.
No Soap on the Nipple
Always ensure to not use any 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.
After you step out of the shower, it is a good idea to apply some moisturizing cream on the nipples if they feel too dry.
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 aggravate the sore further.
Precautions You Should Take
While some of the changes in the breasts come as a part and parcel of pregnancy, there are others that 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 degree Celsius temperature to avoid harm to your baby or skin burns.
- Change your bra on a regular basis, 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 worry, do not hesitate to contact your doctor.
- Make simple exercises like arm rotations a part of your everyday work out to prevent the breasts from sagging during pregnancy.
Pregnancy can be a stressful time for new mothers and many women seldom find time to take out and care for their bodies. However, ignoring your body and breasts during this month can make them sag and look out of shape. Allotting a little time every day to take care of your breasts and nipples can go a long way during pregnancy and keep your post-pregnancy body in a good shape for many years to come.
Also Read: How to Deal With Cracked or Bleeding Nipples