You’re certainly well aware that your own breasts might become swollen during your pregnancy as a result of raging hormones, but did you know that your baby’s breasts might be swollen too? For many women, this comes as a strange and unsettling surprise. On some babies, it’s difficult to differentiate breast swelling from the rest of the baby fat, but on others the swelling is obvious and concerning. If you notice that your baby seems to have swollen breasts, there is a perfectly good explanation and no reason to be alarmed.

If your baby’s breasts are swollen within a week after delivery, it’s actually for the same reason yours were swollen during pregnancy. His or her body is surging with the hormones you were producing, and even after birth they are still affecting your baby’s body quite a bit. They cause the breasts to swell temporarily, but the swelling should do down in just a few days. If you’re breastfeeding, the swelling might last longer because you are still transferring your hormones into your baby’s body.

One study also suggests that giving a baby soy-based formula in his or her early months of life could cause breast swelling, but this would show up later than the first week. Swelling caused by hormones would appear very soon after birth. Even if the swelling seems to be hard directly under your baby’s nipples, it is still a normal process as the hormones leave the body. Though, you should consider contacting your baby’s pediatrician if the swelling or lumps don’t got away or reduce in a few days, as it could be a sign that something is wrong.

When most parents see that their baby’s breasts are swollen, they become overly concerned and spend too much time pinching them to test the swelling. Don’t do this, as the lumps will become red, tender and irritated. Without the irritation, they are harmless and painless. In fact, your baby’s won’t even notice them.

If a small amount of swelling seems to remain after the rest of it goes down slightly, don’t worry too much. That swelling is probably just baby fat that will fade away as your baby grows into a toddler. As long as the amount of fat seems proportional with the rest of your baby’s body, it’s safe to assume that it is no longer swollen as a result of leftover pregnancy hormones.

Source: Amnon Zung et al: Breast Development in the First 2 Years of Life. Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition Volume 46 Issue 2 pp. 191-195 February 2008

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