The female body is truly incredible. The transformation female bodies go through further proves that women are in fact superheroes (and don’t you ever forget it). We as women have the ability to grow, nourish, and bear life into this world – one of the most beautiful parts of life.
While there is much going on in a woman’s body during pregnancy, the changes that occur to the breasts might be surprising to some first-time mothers-to-be. Changes to the breast are oftentimes one of the first few signs of pregnancy. And at each stage of maternity, one’s breasts will show new or advanced signs of preparation for the baby!
FIRST TRIMESTER ( WEEKS 1-12 )
During the first trimester of pregnancy, women’s breasts will begin to feel more tender and swollen due to the body preparing to grow and feed the baby. Hormones are surging at this time getting many aspects of the body ready; and specifically the breasts ready to breastfeed. At this time, between 6-8 weeks, the breasts are noticeably increasing in size as well.
SECOND TRIMESTER (WEEK 13-26)
Amidst the second trimester, your breasts are continuing to grow as the milk ducts develop. It’s normal to feel itching or dryness as your breasts continue to stretch throughout the duration of the pregnancy. One’s bra will likely go up a cup size or even a few cup sizes as every female body varies. This would be a great time to get fitted for a maternity bra that can be conducive for breastfeeding and help to provide more comfort as well.
Additionally, the nipples and areolas may darken and the appearance of veins and stretch marks are likely as well. This is very normal due to an increased blood supply to the area.
Also during this time, the breasts will likely start producing colostrum – a clear, white, or yellow fluid that will act as a superfood for your baby before breast milk comes in. It serves as an immunity booster for the infant, chock-full with an abundance of nutrients. Slight leakage of colostrum may occur at this time and shouldn’t be a cause for worry.
THIRD TRIMESTER (WEEK 27 – END OF PREGNANCY)
At the third stage of pregnancy, the breasts will likely feel even fuller and heavier at this time. The nipples and areola will continue to darken, the nipples will appear more prominent, and stretch marks will be more visible as well. If you have pale skin, veins will emerge and be more detectable too.
Throughout the first week post pregnancy, the breasts will feel very full, heavy, and tender. Two to five days after giving birth, colostrum will change to transitional milk. About ten to fourteen days after birth, the milk will transition to mature milk. As the supply of the breast milk increases, the breasts will continue to produce milk if they maintain breastfeeding on a regular schedule. Engorgement may occur if one has to pause breastfeeding or breast pumping. This can lead to increased pain and uncomfortability. Due to those reasons, having a regular schedule to feed or pump breast milk is recommended if a mother chooses to breastfeed her newborn.
While breastfeeding, it’s important to be aware of the changes in your breasts. If you notice itching, sharp or deep pains, or redness and swelling in your nippls/areola, it could be a sign of nipple thrush, a yeast infection of the nipples. If this occurs, it’s important that you contact your doctor for guidance.
Additionally, mastitis, which is inflammation of breast tissue, can also occur in nursing mothers. If one has a blocked milk duct due to not completely emptying the breast at feeding, or a crack in the skin causing bacteria from the skin’s surface to enter the breast – tenderness, swelling, skin redness, and high temperature can occur. Contact your doctor if you are having any breast concerns.
Post pregnancy and breastfeeding, one’s breasts are likely to return to a similar size as they were before and they may appear more relaxed than prior to pregnancy. Of course this varies person to person, but it wouldn’t hurt to try out some chest exercises to help lift the ladies again. The nipples and areolas should return to their normal state, veins should be less visible, and stretch marks should gradually fade.
Throughout and after pregnancy, it’s important for one to remember just how wonderful the female body is. Prior to pregnancy, it’s easy to be swept up in appearances and compare oneself to others. Post pregnancy it can be just as hard, if not harder. It’s important for mothers to remember that their body is magnificent and is capable of bringing new life into this world.
Mom’s, be sure to give yourself more love and care because you deserve it! Never lose sight of how strong and beautiful you are!