If you’re having a baby, you probably have boobs so let’s talk about what happens to them when you get pregnant. If you’re a man, you might put on some sympathy weight so your man boobs might grow a little. Now ladies…. There is a little more involved for you so if you are thinking about getting pregnant and have heard that your breasts will get larger, you’re absolutely correct… at least for a while, but more about that later. However “bigger” is not the only thing that happens. During pregnancy your body will prepare itself to create milk for your child once it is born and although this is an AMAZING built in feature it is not without its complications.
OUCHY: Thanks to the changes going on inside your boobies they become super sensitive. In fact, there are many women who note sore breasts as one of the first signs of pregnancy but if your boobs happen to be a little sore it does not absolutely mean that you are pregnant. Like nearly everything else in pregnancy there are differences between women and how their bodies behave. Many women experience this breast soreness with each menstrual cycle thanks to hormonal dumps that happen as your body prepares for the possibility of a pregnancy. I never felt soreness during my normal cycles and as a small-chested woman the only times my boobs ever hurt is if I was hit pretty hard. I miss those days. If you are pregnant and have sore breasts, it’s ok! It’s a pretty standard reaction and shouldn’t cause too many problems, just be sure to tell those people who give extra enthusiastic hugs to be gentle.
GROWTH: After the soreness sets in you will begin to notice them growing. Not overnight magic, but it will happen. Never before in my life did I feel the need to hold my boobs in place as I ran. Never before did I have to actually lift my boobs up to clean underneath them. Never before was there this amount of boob sweat! And I could smell it now (thanks again preggo hormones). BLEK! But the thing that caught me off guard the most was that I got stretch marks like crazy! I was expecting to get stretch marks on my stomach and hips but I never thought about the growth in my chest. Some people claim that applying this lotion or that ointment will “cure” this side effect but in reality there is no 100% effective preventative measure or treatment, but of course I’m not going to stop you from slathering on some shea butter because at the very least you’ll have soft skin. By the fourth month I had gone from a 32B to a 34C and by the time I popped that kiddo out it was a 38C. Obviously some of that is just putting on more girth thanks to pregnancy weight but most of it was booby growth. I understand that most small women are totally psyched at the prospect of larger breasts but I was never anxious to change that about myself. I had heard the perils of big boobs and wanted no part in it. I also understand that 38C doesn’t exactly qualify as “big boobs” but to me, it was HUGE! So wherever you are now, know that there will be some changes coming your way.
LEAKING: I was told that when I got close to giving birth that my boobs would start leaking small amounts of colostrum.
PAUSE: colostrum is a protein and antibody rich yellowish fluid that is ultra-easy to digest. It is produced throughout pregnancy and the first couple of days postpartum until your milk “comes in”
Not all people do have leaky boobs before birth but you most certainly will afterwards. This is where bra pads come in to play. There are reusable and disposable options and which you choose to use is up to you but may I suggest stocking up before that baby comes. Everything I was told and read said that the vast majority of mothers will experience this starting somewhere between week 26-30 of pregnancy. My super awesome body decided it wanted to be prepared and showed me that we were all systems go on the milk front when I was 14weeks in. It was odd having random dribbles coming out but it’s not painful and if you’re prepared it’s not that inconvenient either. You don’t know when you’re going to start this version of leaking (there are many leaks during pregnancy) so get them before you think you’ll need them. Having a wet bra or shirt is not comfortable and not advised.
ENGORGEMENT: Most of your boob growth happens prior to giving birth but once you pop out that little sucker your breasts will likely get even larger thanks to something called engorgement. Engorgement happens when your milk “comes in” and swells up your breasts. Prior to having that kiddo, your body produces small amounts of colostrum, afterwards your body makes vast amounts of milk. This over production of milk not only causes your boobs to swell up but they will actually become hard from the pressure and quite uncomfortable. The best way to cope with the discomfort is to keep breastfeeding. There is an odd supply and demand conundrum that occurs though. In order to help engorgement pain it is suggested that you breastfeed or pump frequently however by doing so you increase the “demand” being placed on your breasts and they will in turn supply even more milk causing your engorgement problem to stay in place. The key is figuring out how much to expel so that you are comfortable without going so far overboard that you signal your body to give you even more milk. As if there weren’t enough things to figure out with a newborn baby. Some women also find that heating pads help soothe the discomfort. In my experience all that did was make my boobs start leaking so not my cup of tea but if it works for you, go for it! In time your body will regulate it’s supply and the engorgement will subside.
PAIN: One of the most often talked about issues facing breastfeeding is that it HURTS. We are talking about cracked, chapped, sore, bleeding nipples. Can you imagine having your skin rubbed raw and then being asked to keep injuring yourself because “breast is best” all while being sleep deprived, changing poopy diapers, listening to a colicky baby cry for hours, and then just when you’ve conquered yet another grueling round of feeding, your kid spits up and all that milk comes right back out? No wondering so many new mothers quit breastfeeding within the first couple of weeks or at the very least supplement with formula. Not to brag, but my nipples are freaking rock stars. You heard me! Not only are they excellent at delivering milk to my little sweetie but they never once hurt me….ok almost, there have been a couple of times since my son has sprouted teeth that he has bitten me and not let go, but even still! No bleeding. No cracking. No chapped feeling. Nada. I was told up and down that lanolin would be my sweet relief but luckily I didn’t need it. I truly hope that each and every mama out there is blessed with ultra-tough nips like mine. And if not, I still have extra lanolin sitting around somewhere I’m sure I could find for you. Even if you choose not to breastfeed you still have the pain of engorgement for a little while and the soreness that accompanies having a fully loaded chest. Good luck laying on your stomach.
SAGS: After your boobs grew, swelled up, and looked AMAZING for a while, the milk subsides and you are left with some degree of saggy boobs. Your skin has been stretched out so quickly that it no longer can help your lady lumps look perky, stress has been put on the ligaments that help keep your breast tissue attached to your body, and despite having bigger boobs the built in support from your body just isn’t there as much as it used to be. Maybe it looks like gravity is a little bit stronger or maybe your boobs now reach down to your belly button. Point being, if you want to have perky boobs forever, don’t age and do not have a kid.
THE UNKNOWN: In the end there is a little bit of mystery. What I used to hear all the time is that if you have a kid you WILL have bigger boobs and your boobs will grow each time you have a child. As mentioned before, I was never really keen on being larger chested and just thought that getting bigger boobs would be one of those things that you just have to deal with. Guess who was taught wrong?! As it turns out it’s kind of a game of chance, as are many things when it comes to pregnancy and your recovery from it. Some women will keep their larger breasts, some women will go back down to their “normal” size after ceasing to breastfeed, and some women’s chests will actually shrink!! I never knew that having smaller boobs was a possibility!! I am still breastfeeding my kiddo but am kind of looking forward to seeing where I end up. I do know that wherever I come in on the spectrum, I will still be quite happy with my body even if it means doing yet another bra shopping safari to find what works for me.