Know how your breasts change before and after pregnancy

Dr Veena Auranga Badwala, a Gynaecologist at Zen Multispecialty Hospital, Chembur, shares how essential is breastmilk for the newborn, and how women can take care of their breasts both pre and post-pregnancy

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Breastfeeding is the most nutritious, natural, and least contaminated food that a new mother can provide to her newborn. It is a rich source of essential amino acids, fats, vitamins, minerals, and fluid, that is enough to sustain the newborn’s needs for the first six months of life.

It provides the baby essential immunoglobulins which protect the baby from infections as well as other chronic diseases.

Besides the baby, it also gives several benefits to the mother. It is not only the most convenient option for the mother, but also helps her get back to pre-pregnancy weight faster, provides contraceptive benefits, and helps the mother to child bonding.

Several studies also reveal that the women, who have breastfed their babies, are at a lower risk of developing cervical cancer compared to those who haven’t.

It is crucial to have a breast examination done at the first antenatal visit. Pregnancy is probably the first time when a woman visits a doctor or gets her breasts examined by a medical professional.

It helps identify physiological variations such as inverted, retracted, flat nipples, as well as pathological conditions such as fibroadenomas, cysts and even malignancies of the breast.

Once identified, it gives them enough time to take corrective steps well before the delivery to avoid surprises and difficulties in breastfeeding immediately after the baby is born.

Common variations noticed in pregnant women are flat nipples, inverted nipples, and hard areolae. There are commercially available nipple formers that could be used after the eighth month of gestation, to improve these conditions. An examination at the doctor’s clinic, followed by learning the technique of self-breast examination is necessary for every woman.

Dos and Don’ts:

Do

  • Know your body, and report to your doctor if you notice any unexpected breast changes.
  • Be aware that the breast size would change during the course of pregnancy and wear comfortable breast support accordingly.

Don’t

  • Don’t stimulate the breasts by frequent handling, as this would lead to preterm labour.
  • Don’t express the antenatally noticed lactation, as this too, is physiological.
  • Don’t wear tight-fitting brassieres.