5 Effective Tips For Proper Breast Care During Pregnancy

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Breast care during pregnancy helps to avoid many problems during breastfeeding. Breasts undergo many changes during pregnancy and postpartum to prepare for breastfeeding. Increased blood supply, hormonal changes, and colostrum production may cause breast discomfort and soreness (1).

Using a warm compress and wearing maternity bras may help reduce these discomforts. In addition, ask your healthcare provider if you have any concerns regarding breast changes in pregnancy.

Read on to learn more about breast changes in pregnancy, tips for breast care during this time, and some general precautions to take.

Tips For Breast Care During Pregnancy

Breasts begin to engorge and turn sensitive during pregnancy. The nipples may also become dry and pigmented and develop cracks. The following measures can help you take care of your breasts during and after pregnancy.

1. Breast massage

Massaging your breasts can help with blocked ducts, stretch marks, and cracked nipples. Take some moisturizer or olive oil and rub around the nipples in a circular motion, using your fingertips. Pull the nipples gently outwards. Continue for about five minutes.

A good breast massage is likely to

  • boost the supply of milk post-delivery and improve breastfeeding.
  • soften the breasts, smoothen the mammary glands, and increase milk flow.
  • envigorate the nipples and areola for easy sucking.

Precautionary measures

  •  Do not put excessive pressure on the breasts.
  • Use only your fingertips for massaging.
  • Stop massaging if you experience any pain.
  • Do not excessively massage the nipples when you are in the final stages of pregnancy.

2. Stay active

Follow an exercise regimen and have a healthy diet. Gentle stretching activities could tone the upper body. Arm stretches could help provide strength to the breast muscles and may reduce breast pain.

Precautionary measures

  • Do not overdo physical activities.
  • Check with your doctor or fitness specialist before taking up any exercise routine.

3. Use right-fitting maternity bras

A comfortable maternity bra, preferably made of cotton, can help as the breasts stretch during pregnancy. Also, sports bra could be comfortable (2). They keep the muscles below the breasts toned and strong and may prevent sagging.

Precautionary measures

  • Do not use tight-fitting or ill-fitting bras.
  • Underwire bras may not be comfortable.

4. Check your nipples

Flat nipples do not stand out much or do not stick out when cold or sexually aroused. Inverted nipples pull inward upon stimulation and look dimpled, indented, or flat in the center. Both kinds of nipples offer a poor latch for breastfeeding. If your nipples are inverted or flat, you may consider wearing breast shells after checking with your doctor. The shells place gentle pressure on your breasts, thereby drawing the nipples outward (3).

Precautionary measures

  • Do not wear breast shells if you are at a risk of premature labor.

5. Follow good hygiene practices

Your nipples may leak out a small amount of colostrum, your first breastmilk. You may use a cotton cloth or disposable nursing pad to absorb the fluid (4). If wearing a pad is not comfortable, you may consider cleaning your breasts using a clean cloth dipped in warm water.

Precautionary measures

  • Do not use soap or alcohol-based cleaning agents. They might cause drying and soreness.

General Precautions To Take

To avoid discomfort, you may take the following precautions.

  1. Wash your breasts with clean, warm water every day.
  1. Check your breasts regularly for any changes, and if you happen to see any changes, let your doctor know about it.
  1. Do not keep your breasts damp as they may cause cracks in the nipples.
  1. Avoid scrubbing your breasts with rough cloth or towels. Just pat them dry after a shower.
  1. Maintain a healthy body weight by having a balanced diet.
  1. Quit smoking and limit alcohol intake.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. During which month of pregnancy do breasts produce milk?

The stage-one lactogenesis (initiation of breast milk production) begins around the 16th week (4th month) of pregnancy. At this point, your mammary glands start preparing for milk production and producing colostrum (the baby’s first milk) (5).

2. Is it safe to touch my nipples during pregnancy?

Nipple or breast stimulation in the third trimester can cause uterine cramps and contractions due to the release of the hormone oxytocin, which may result in labor. However, you can safely touch or massage your nipples during early pregnancy (6).

Hormonal changes and preparation for milk production may cause discomfort, dryness, or other breast changes. These changes may vary from one woman to another and can be managed with proper care. Breast care during pregnancy may include a gentle five-minute breast massage, upper body stretching exercises, and using comfortable cotton bras. Check for flat or inverted nipples and speak to your doctor for remedial measures. Maintain good hygiene practices and a healthy lifestyle, and check with your doctor if you observe any unusual changes in your breasts.

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
1. Body changes and discomforts; Office on Women’s Health; 2019
2. Exercise During Pregnancy; American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2019)
3. Flat or Inverted Nipples; University of Rochester Medical Center
4.Breast changes during and after pregnancy; Breast Cancer Now. (2019) (2017)
5.Lactation; Cleveland Clinic
6. Kaori Takahata et al.; Breast changes during and after pregnancy: A feasibility study; PLoS One (2018)
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Subhashis Samajder

( MS, DNB)
Dr. Subhashis Samajder is a consultant Gynecologist-Obstetrician currently practising at Narayana Multispeciality Hospital, Howrah. His area of expertise includes abortion, colposcopy surgery, hysterectomy, hysteroscopy, infertility treatment, and menopausal problems. Dr. Samajder believes in sending his patients back home healthy and satisfied with the treatment. He also takes up women’s health awareness through his YT videos.

Rebecca Malachi

Rebecca is a pregnancy writer and editor with a passion for delivering research-based and engaging content in areas of fertility, pregnancy, birth, and post-pregnancy. She has been into health and wellness writing since 2010. She received her graduate degree in Biotechnology and Genetics from Loyola Academy, Osmania University and obtained a certification in ‘Nutrition and Lifestyle in Pregnancy’ from Ludwig... more

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