One of the first symptoms of pregnancy is soreness of the breast. In early pregnancy, the breast tissue undergoes quite a few changes in preparation for milk creation and feeding of the newborn.
Progesterone and Early Breast Changes
Progesterone is the hormone responsible for the changes in breast tissue during early pregnancy. This hormone helps the breast to grow larger in order to hold the supply of milk needed to nourish the newborn. The progesterone also increases the size of the alveoli. These branched ducts are very similar to the ducts of the lungs, but instead of air, the alveoli hold the milk while the ducts move the milk to the nipple of the breast.
While the progesterone is responsible for the breast enlargement it is the estrogen that enlarges the ducts that will carry the milk to the areola and eventually into baby's tummy. The estrogen will also increase the size of the areola which may darken in color as the pregnancy progresses.
Toughening the Nipples for Breastfeeding
The nipples will go from being rarely touched to being a major source of attention soon after birth. It was once thought that using rough soaps and toughening the nipples was the best way to prepare for the tenderness of breast feeding. Today, mothers are advised to allow keep the breasts free from soaps and to discontinue any toughening as it can harm the glands that keep the areola infection free.
Aside from breast size and tenderness, there are other changes that will occur. These early breast changes during pregnancy include the expansion of the veins in the breast. The pregnant mom should not be worried if the veins in the breast appear larger or more noticeable during the first trimester. The body will increase total blood volume by up to 40% during the pregnancy and these veins will increase to accommodate more blood flow.
Bra Size and Choice
As the breasts grow larger it is important to keep bras on hand that fit the new breast size. Support is a huge issue especially later in pregnancy when the tummy is already putting added pressure on the back without the extra weight of the breast. The bra should have shoulder support and back support. Later in the pregnancy, the mom to be can choose a breastfeeding bra to support the breast while feeding baby if breastfeeding is the nourishment of choice for baby.
The bra choice is important for back support, but also for breast support. The larger breasts will not remain for the rest of the new mom's life. With proper breast support during pregnancy and after birth will help ensure the breast tissue stays taught and returns to normal size after breastfeeding is stopped or volume decreases.
The breasts are often the center of attention during the first weeks of life. With breast tenderness, increase in breast size and the first signs of colostrum (the initial breast milk), the mom to be can almost track the entire pregnancy by the condition of the breasts at any given time.