Breast care during pregnancy should be started as soon as the woman finds out she is pregnant and aims to reduce the pain and discomfort due to her growth, prepare the breast for breastfeeding and prevent the appearance of stretch marks.
During pregnancy, the breasts change to prepare for breastfeeding, becoming bigger, heavier and sore. In addition, the areola is darker and more sensitive and the veins in the breasts are more prominent, and it is important to take several precautions.
The main changes and the necessary care are:
1. Breasts become sore or tender
With weight gain, belly growth and the start of breast milk production, it is normal for the breasts to become larger and slightly sore or more sensitive. This sensation usually starts between the 6th and 7th week of pregnancy, but in some women it may appear later, depending on the growth of the breast.
What to do to relieve: A great solution is to use a support bra during the day and night, as it helps to support the weight and volume of the breasts. The bra should preferably be made of cotton, have wide straps, support the breasts well, have no support iron and it is important that, as the breasts grow, the pregnant woman increases the size of the bra.
From the third trimester, the pregnant woman will be able to use a breastfeeding bra to get used to it, as she should wear it after the baby is born. Check out other tips to decrease breast growth discomfort during pregnancy.
2. Halo is darker
Due to hormonal changes and increased blood vascularity in the breasts it is normal for the areolas to be darker than normal. This new color should remain throughout breastfeeding, but will return to normal after the baby stops breastfeeding exclusively.
3. Balls around the areola are more prominent
Some women have little balls around the areola. These little balls are actually the Montgomery tubers, a type of fat-producing gland that is very necessary in breastfeeding to protect mom’s skin. During pregnancy and breastfeeding it is normal for these small glands to be more prominent, not to be a cause for concern.
4. Stretch marks can appear
The rapid enlargement of breasts in pregnancy can lead to the appearance of stretch marks which also causes an itchy skin.
What to do to avoid stretch marks: You should apply a cream for stretch marks on the breasts, at least 2 times a day, avoiding the areola and nipple. There are good brands that can be found in pharmacies or drugstores, but also applying sweet almond oil is a good strategy. Learn how to make and use homemade stretch mark cream.
5. Colostrum appears
In the 3rd trimester of pregnancy, especially in the last weeks or days of pregnancy, if the woman presses the nipple properly, she will be able to observe the presence of small drops of milk, which is actually colostrum, a very rich milk that has everything you need. the newborn baby needs to feed for the first few days. After a few days the milk becomes stronger and comes in greater quantity, becoming whiter and less watery. Understand what colostrum is.
6. Veins become more evident
The vascularization of the breasts becomes more evident because with the growth of the breasts the skin stretches a lot and leaves the veins more evident, which can have a greenish or blue color, being completely normal.
How to prepare breasts to breastfeed
To prepare the breasts for breastfeeding, the pregnant woman must:
- Take 15 minutes of sun per day on the nipples: The pregnant woman should sunbathe until 10am or after 4pm, putting sunscreen on her breasts, except on the areolas and nipples, helping to prevent cracking in the nipples and making the skin more resistant to cracks during breastfeeding. A great alternative for pregnant women who cannot sunbathe is to use a 40 W lamp 30 cm away from the nipples;
- Wash nipples and areolas only with water: pregnant women should avoid hygiene products, such as soaps, as they remove the natural hydration of the nipples, increasing the risk of nipple cracks;
- Leaving the nipples exposed to the air for as long as possible: it is important because this way the skin is more intact and healthy, preventing cracks and fungal infections that can arise during breastfeeding.
Another tip to prepare the breasts for breastfeeding is to massage the breasts 1 or 2 times a day, from the 4th month of pregnancy, as the massage helps to make the nipple more prominent for breastfeeding, facilitating the suction of milk by the baby . To do the massage, just hold the breast with both hands, one on each side, and apply pressure from the base to the nipple, about 5 times, and then repeat, but with one hand on top and the other under the breast. Check out other tips to prepare your breasts for breastfeeding.