It is not just your belly that grows during pregnancy. There is something else too: your breasts. In fact, it is pretty common for women to grow by almost two cup sizes, especially if they are pregnant for the first time. But wait! before you freak out, let us tell you that this natural growth is nothing to be afraid of. Truth be told, it is just a sign that your body is getting ready to produce milk for your baby following delivery.
As an expecting mother, you might be thinking whether there is anything else you can do presently to prepare your breasts for nurturing your baby. And the answer is both, yes and no!
We bring you here the top five breast-related queries you might have in your head, all answered by an expert:
What To Do If Nipples Are So Flat That They Are Sort Of Inverted?
Yes, you can try to draw your nipples out. But, don’t do this until you are close to your delivery date. Breastfeeding expert and pediatrician Marianne Neifert authored “Great Expectations: The Essential Guide To Breastfeeding” where she mentioned how it is only in the last month of pregnancy that the expecting mother can start using breast shells. Essentially a dome-shaped device made of plastic, which has a central opening, it can be worn over the nipples to draw them out (1). It is not advised early on in pregnancy as it leads to nipple stimulation which can result in contraction of the uterus, and in turn, trigger preterm labor. Also, if you ever decide to use these breast shells, please ensure you also consult a lactation expert.
You can also opt to use a breast pump post delivery. The pump can enable protrusion of nipples, thus, making it easier for the milk to flow. Use this right before you are latching the baby onto your breasts. Marianne further explains in the book that the nipples do become more erect post breastfeeding, even if they were inverted or flat before.
Should You Toughen Your Nipples To Prepare For Breastfeeding?
This one is a strict NO. Apart from being unnecessary, it can result in preterm labor, as mentioned earlier. The nipple skin does not have tissue that forms callous, so it is not really possible to toughen it. In fact, you might end up harming the sensitive skin in that area, which will make breastfeeding an uncomfortable process (2). If you need something to prepare yourself, you can probably choose to use ultra-pure, medical-grade lanolin on the nipple skin to make it more supple.
Is It Normal For Nipples To Leak Fluid In The Second Trimester Itself?
Your body can start producing colostrum, which is breast milk’s earliest form, as early as when you are just 16 weeks pregnant. This fluid has anti-infective properties that help prevent infections in the baby right from the time he/she is born. Yes, it is possible for some expecting mothers to leak small quantities of it during pregnancy itself, but this is nothing to get worked up about. Neonatologist and board-certified lactation consultant, Nancy Wight, said that the fluid is not present in a finite amount. Even after your baby’s birth, your body is capable of producing more of it .
Does Having A Small Breast Size Impact Your Ability To Provide Milk For Baby?
Though it was earlier believed that the size of the breast does not affect a mother’s ability to produce milk, it is now being said that certain breasts might face problems. It is expected that the breasts will grow during pregnancy, but if it doesn’t enlarge much, it might be an issue. This is because breast enlargement during pregnancy is essentially indicative of multiplication and growth of milk ducts and glands. Suppose you don’t see much breast growth during pregnancy, it is advisable to go to a lactation consultant so you can prepare yourself for any potential issues. One of the reasons could be that small breasts might be able to store less milk in comparison to big breasts, thus making it necessary to nurse more frequently.
Does Having A Breast Surgery Affect Breastfeeding In Any Way?
There are many mothers out there who have faced no issue providing milk for the baby despite having a breast surgery. However, breast surgery of any type might cause a problem in breastfeeding. It mainly depends on factors like the type of surgery, the number of incisions and its location, the number of surgeries, and lastly, the time since the last surgery. It is advisable, therefore, to be honest about this with your doctor beforehand so you both can plan accordingly.
We hope that these answers have helped you get rid of some of those doubts in your head. Now, you can sit back and relax. All the best!