For many women, breast tenderness and an increase in the size of their breasts are the first signs of pregnancy. Sometimes breasts are so painful that you can't bear them to be touched, and they may also throb and feel hot. Breast tenderness usually subsides by the end of the first trimester.
Tenderness is a sign that the breasts are preparing for their role of feeding your baby after the birth: the milk ducts are starting to enlarge and blood flow increases.
Wearing a properly fitting bra will help support your breasts and reduce discomfort. An ill-fitting or tight bra will be uncomfortable and may put pressure on the milk ducts. You may also find it helpful to wear a soft sleep bra at night. If your breasts feel hot, applying a cool washcloth to them may bring relief.
If you have a painful or red patch on a breast, you should report this to your doctor because it could be a sign of mastitis.
Each woman has breasts and nipples individual to her. Women who have flat nipples that do not protrude or whose nipples are inverted (concave) may worry that they may not be able to breast-feed. However, all healthy women can breast-feed because babies feed by taking in a mouthful of breast, not just the nipple.
Inverted or flat nipples are thought to be due to shorter ligaments in the underlying breast tissue that pull the nipples inward.
If you have any concerns about the suitability of your nipples for breast-feeding, talk to your doctor who can refer you to a lactation consultant. There are also products available that will draw out nipples in preparation for breast-feeding. However, these are by no means essential because when babies latch on to the breast they are able to draw out even a flat or inverted nipple (although you may eventually need help by a lactation consultant to show you the best way to help your baby do this).
Excerpted from Pregnancy Day by Day.
Copyright © 2008 Dorling Kindersley Limited.
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