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