Burst­ing at the SEAMS

Long be­fore belly turns into bump, your breasts will start chang­ing. Here’s what you can ex­pect, writes San­dra Coet­zee

Your Pregnancy - - Pregnancy Files -

ASK AROUND — BREAST changes are among the first signs that make women sus­pect they’re preg­nant. Many say their breasts started feel­ing un­com­fort­able, even ten­der and prickly, a few weeks af­ter con­cep­tion. As your preg­nancy pro­gresses, you’ll def­i­nitely also see your chest fill­ing out quite a bit. Women who started out smug­gling peanuts usu­ally en­joy this side-ef­fect of preg­nancy. For those with big boobs, it can be less pleas­ant. Although it’s frus­trat­ing and ex­pen­sive to buy new un­der­wear, it’s worth it through and through. Good sup­port is ex­tremely im­por­tant, and it can help pre­vent stretch­marks. You should also wear a bra when you go to bed at night. Up to 25 per­cent of preg­nant women end up with stretch­marks on their chest. Be gen­er­ous with a daily dose of cream or oil to keep your skin as sup­ple as pos­si­ble. Noth­ing can pre­vent stretch­marks com­pletely, but there’s no harm in keep­ing your skin mois­turised. Also guard against pick­ing up too much weight, be­cause those ex­tra ki­los gather around your boobs, and this fur­ther in­creases your chances of get­ting stretch­marks. An­other big change, but one that’s less well known, is that your nip­ples be­come big­ger and darker. And be warned, you can start leak­ing lit­tle drops of milk from 16 weeks on­wards. That moist patch in your bra is colostrum – your baby’s first milk. You’ll also no­tice the veins un­der the skin of your breasts be­com­ing much more prom­i­nent, es­pe­cially if you’re very fair. Your are­ola (the coloured parts around your nip­ples) will be­come darker and big­ger with small vis­i­ble bumps. These are glands that keep the skin in this area sup­ple.

WHAT CAUSES THESE CHANGES?

Thank the hor­mone pro­ges­terone for the changes you see in your body dur­ing preg­nancy. A breast usu­ally has 15 to 20 lobes that branch into smaller lob­ules a cou­ple of weeks af­ter con­cep­tion. These lob­ules con­sist of milk-pro­duc­ing glands, tis­sue and fat. Dur­ing your preg­nancy, hor­monal changes kick-start the lob­ules to pro­duce milk, and they be­come larger at the same time. Don’t hes­i­tate to tell your doc­tor that your breasts are feel­ing ten­der. It’s ac­tu­ally a good sign. For some relief, stay away from un­der­wire bras, es­pe­cially at night. Keep on ex­am­in­ing your breasts on a monthly ba­sis, as you’re sup­posed to do any­way. If any­thing feels un­usual, and es­pe­cially if you have a his­tory of breast can­cer, you can still go for a mam­mo­gram or sonar now – it’s safe dur­ing preg­nancy.

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