Understanding the mechanics of breastfeeding allows you and your family to prepare for what's ahead. 

Breasts Changes

Around the time when you start to feel your baby move for the first time is when your body begins the process of making colostrum. Don't worry; you don't have to do anything now. Your body will also increase blood and fluids to the breast area. Notice how fuller the breasts look and how heavy they are starting to feel. You want to see those changes occur during the pregnancy. The lack of changes may lead to concerns. Your Lactation Consultant will support you in this area. 

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Breast changes common in pregnancy- first trimester​​
 

  • Achy pain is common and may last for weeks.

  • Skin my itch and be sensitive.

  • Nipples may become more tender and sensitive.

  • The areola may begin to get larger.

  • Rapid growth may lead to stretch marks on the breast.

  • Veins may become more visible as the skin gets thinner. 
     

Support for breast changes in the first trimester

As your breast size and shape may begin to change rapidly, a bra that offers flexible support with a size range in cup sizes may minimize discomfort and sensitivity. Look for a very soft bra with minimal structuring while providing support with a wide band and fabric that gives, providing gentle support. Some breasts change by 5-6 cup sizes, so shopping for new bras that accommodate the new breast growth may be necessary. Underwire bras are not recommended. Limiting refined sugars and caffeine may also reduce discomfort.

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Breast changes common in pregnancy- second trimester

 

  • Growth may slow down.

  • Sensitivity usually lessens.

  • The nipples and areolas may begin to darken.

  • The areola may continue to get larger.

  • To accommodate the growing baby, the rib cage may begin to expand.

  • More blueish veins may be visible under the surface as blood volume increases.

 

Support for breast changes in the second trimester

The second trimester tends to be more stable with changes slowing down and discomfort decreasing. During pregnancy, blood volume typically doubles and due to the thinner nature of the skin of the chest area, veins may become more visible under the surface.

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Breast changes common in pregnancy- third trimester

 

  • Some discharge or dried flakes of colostrum may be noticed on the nipple.

  • Breasts may become more sensitive again.

  • Growth may increase.

  • The rib cage expands further.

  • Breasts may begin to feel heavier.

  • Nipples may become more sensitive to touch.

  • The areola may darken.

  • The areola may grow larger.

  • Bumps on areola may be more noticeable (Montgomery Glands).

 

Support for breast changes in the third trimester

As the body prepares to feed the growing baby, the breasts again enter a time of transition, particularly closer to the due date. Structured bras may be uncomfortable. A supportive nursing or sports bra may be more comfortable during this time and immediately after postpartum. Some may notice their breasts beginning to leak or find dried bits of colostrum on their nipple or on their bra. Montgomery Glands around the nipple and on the areola may increase in size. These glands secrete an oil (lipoid fluid) that helps keep the areola and the nipple lubricated and protected and the smell of this oil may serve as a signal to the newborn of where to latch and suckle.

Support System

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It takes a Village to Raise A Child. - African Culture Proverb.

 

 

Support can look different for each family. Having a supportive person with you through your breastfeeding journey increases the breastfeeding duration. A supportive person encourages you when you are worried or tired. As a parent, every baby presents new adventures, and often we have questions and concerns. 

Who can be a supportive person?

  • Your partner

  • Closer relative

  • A friend that breastfed 

  • Lactation Consultant

  • A Doula or Midwife

  • Lactation Counselor or La Leche League Leader

  • Community Health Worker

  • Breastfeeding Friendly Pediatrician or Medical Professional 

How can my support person help?

  • Remind you of important information shared by your medical provider. 

  • Help keep track of feedings and soiled diapers.

  • Help with common household chores so you can rest with your baby. 

  • Motivate you during your journey and remind you of your breastfeeding goal. 

  • Makes sure you are eating and drinking enough.

  • Coaches you through breastfeeding challenges.  

 

Essential Items

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While breastfeeding is meant to be cost effective, there are items we recommend to have at hand to support your breastfeeding journey. 

  • Nipple Cream

  • Nursing Bra and Nursing night gown

  • Breast pads

  • Breast pump: to be used in case there are issues with latching and you want to protect your milk supply

  • Haakaa

  • Nursing Pillow: BreastFriend Pillow is ideal. 

  • Swallading Blanket

 

Lactation Resources

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