Breasts experience considerable changes during pregnancy and after the delivery of the baby.
Changes in Breasts During Pregnancy
Pregnancy hormones play vital role here and bring a number of changes in the breasts during pregnancy. These changes include:
• The breasts get bigger and tender when touched.
• Due to the increased blood flow in the breasts, they may feel swollen, sore and tingly.
• Darkening of nipples and areolas occurs (the skin around your nipples).
• Darkened veins may appear along your breasts (due to increased blood supply to your breasts).
• The nipples will change in shape and size. They will enlarge and stick out more.
• As the breasts start preparing themselves for lactation, the breasts may start leaking a yellowish, thick substance known as colostrum.
Breast Care During Pregnancy
• Invest in a good supportive bra that can handle the increasing breast size. Avoid underwire bras, as under wires can put pressure on milk glands and interfere with milk production.
• Wear a maternity sleep bra that ensures adequate breast support at night.
• Colostrum discharge can be managed by using breast pads in the bra. Select from reusable and disposable varieties available at stores. Change them several times a day and allow your nipples to air dry each change.
• Do not use soap on your nipples, as dry nipples can tear easily. Use a good moisturizer to prevent them from getting dried out.
Breast Care after Delivery
Nipples can crack due to improper latch-on. It can also happen if the nipples are too dry, too wet or undergo too much friction. Ensure that the baby latches-on to the breast properly and most part of the areola is in the child’s mouth.
Immediately after delivery, the hormones released in the body start producing milk for lactation, whether you are breastfeeding or not. If unable to feed well, the breasts may feel uncomfortably full.
To minimize engorgement try to nurse frequently or express out the extra amount of milk. Warm compresses or expressing milk in a warm shower prove helpful.
Breast Milk Leakage
Breast milk leakage can prolong for a few weeks to a couple of months depending upon the milk production and the sucking capacity of the child. Wear breast pad whenever necessary and change it often. Also, keep the nipples and surrounding area clean and dry.