A lot more than your belly is changing during pregnancy, your breasts have taken on their own identity!
It's not uncommon for your breasts to change two cup sizes or more, some women report up to 5 cup sizes! Don't panic, this is all very normal in its own unique way. It's a good thing too, it's a sign your amazing body is getting those breasts ready to breastfeed your new bundle of joy.
We worry, that's what us women do, so here's a few answers to some of your questions about breasts during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Do I need to toughen the nipples prior to breastfeeding? Not at all. It's not proven this works so don't worry. The only thing we'd suggest is applying some lanolin to help keep the skin supple.
Leaking breasts? Yes, it is common to have breasts leaking some colostrum from 16 weeks. This is totally normal and you have an endless supply, so you won't run out by the time your baby is born!
Inverted nipples? Don't worry until your baby is born, or just prior. Breast shells (plastic domes that fit over your breast and help draw the nipple out) can be worn in the days leading up to labour (but not too early as stimulating your breasts can bring on labour!). When your baby is born, try a breast pump to help draw those nipples out. Your baby also has a really strong sucking reflex so he/she will be a huge help!
I have small breasts, can I still breastfeed? Chances are you'll see an increase in bust size to help prepare for this, nature is pretty incredible. However, if you get closer to your labour date and you haven't seen an increase, maybe see a lactation consultant to help prepare you as it may be something like you'll need to feed more often to keep up your milk supply.
I have breast implants, can I still breastfeed? This is something that will need to be checked by a doctor as it does really depend on the surgery, how often you've had it, or the location of the incisions. Many women do go on to breastfeed so don't panic until you've had a check up.
When should I start wearing a nursing bra? As soon as you see any change in your breasts. You want them to be in perfect health when they need to do their job, and staying away from restrictive fitting metal wired bras, and bras that are incorrectly fitted or the wrong size is critical. Typically this is from 6 months.
How do I ensure I won't get mastitis? There is no sure fire way, but latching on correctly from the start is critical. Make sure you get help from experts on how to latch on and don't let go of that help until you're sure you have it right. This will help fight against cracked nipples. Also ensure you're wearing the right sized bra that won't put pressure on your milk ducts (see fitting room). ps. There is no proof that cabbage leaves really do work.
Lastly, you're amazing! You are forming a baby (a real life human!) and getting ready to provide vital nutrients for your baby, be proud of being amazing! Revel in it! xxx