Pregnant boobs

Many women can start to realise they are pregnant through the breast changes they experience; you may first notice an increase in size and possibly tenderness, very early on before the pregnancy is confirmed.

During pregnancy, breasts grow larger under the influence of hormones. This growth is a positive sign that the breasts are preparing for breastfeeding.

The progesterone hormone increases the size of the alveoli (the milk producing units of the breast).  The lobes, which are sections of the alveoli and connecting ducts inside the breast, allow the milk to flow from the alveoli where the milk is made, to the openings in the nipple.

Picture the structure of the alveoli and the connecting ducts as mini bunches of grapes.  The alveoli would take the place of the grapes and the ducts take the place of the stems.  The lobes would be one complete bunch of grapes with the top of the stem ending at the nipple.

Also, women may notice the areola (the dark, circular part around the nipple), increase in diameter and get deeper in colour.  It is said that the dark colour of the areola acts as a way of helping the newborn easily identify the nipple.

The Montgomery glands, the small pimple-like glands on the areola, excrete a substance which prevents the areola from becoming infected.  So women should avoid using soap, or doing any preparation such as  “toughening” the nipples, since this may interfere with the effectiveness of the Montgomery glands.

The best thing a mother can do to prepare for breastfeeding is to become well informed.

Attend a breastfeeding class or even a mother’s breastfeeding support group and make sure you become familiar with the local breastfeeding related services.