What really happens to your bust during pregnancy and the essential styles to invest in
Whether or not you plan on breastfeeding, a blossoming bust is an inevitable part of pregnancy and one of the first signs that you are expecting. Thanks to an influx of hormones, your cup size will rapidly increase as your milk ducts grow and stretch. But it’s not just the size of your breasts that can change, here are some other common changes you may experience…
You may begin to notice your nipples and areolas (surrounding skin) get darker. This is caused by pregnancy hormones stimulating an increase in melanin (the substance that gives pigment to your hair, eyes and skin). It’s commonly believed that this is an evolutionary adaptation – newborns have blurry vision and a darker areola is easier for them to see. Don’t worry, this won’t last forever!
YOU’RE SO VEIN…
In your final trimester the visible veins in your breasts may begin to resemble a road map. This is caused by increased blood flow, making your veins more prominent. Although more noticeable on the breasts, you may also notice visible veins on your legs and tummy, too. Fear not, once your little one has arrived or you stop breastfeeding they will return to ‘normal’.
LUMPS & BUMPS…
Finding a lump in your breast can be alarming for any woman, however, swellings that occur during pregnancy are normally benign (non-cancerous)*. The most common cause of breast lumps when expecting are cysts (fluid-filled sacs), galactoceles (milk-filled cysts) and fibroadenomas (benign tumours which develop in the lobules of the breast). If you have discovered or are worried about a new bump, always visit your GP or health provider. Your areolas may also begin to look as though they have goose-bumps, this is because of increased ‘Montgomery’s tubercles’ (little raised bumps around the nipples). You might think they look unsightly but these small swellings serve a purpose! They help moisturise your nipples, preventing the skin drying out during breastfeeding.
It’s extremely normal to begin to leak milk when expecting, particularly in the third trimester. If you find you’re leaking, slipping absorbent cotton breast pads into your maternity bra will save you a trip to the drycleaners.
During pregnancy and postpartum your breasts need a well-fitting bra with wide straps for maximum support. This doesn’t mean you have to give up on style – there are plenty of pretty lingerie solutions for maternity and motherhood. Confused about what defines a maternity bra from a nursing bra? The terms are often used interchangeably but traditionally a nursing design comes with hook clasps at the straps so that the cups can be unfastened for feeding. There is no reason why you can’t wear a nursing bra during pregnancy. In fact it is a smart investment, as you’ll be able to continue wearing it post-birth when breastfeeding your baby.
WHAT TO EXPECT: A blossoming bust is an inevitable part of pregnancy, and one of the first signs that you are expecting. An influx of hormones means that your cup size will (very) rapidly increase and your breasts may become tender and sore.
WHAT TO BUY: Support your swiftly growing bust with a bra that is structured with stretch to expand with an increasing cup size. Made from seamless lace with removable padded cups and in a smart black hue, Cosabella’s wireless Trenta bra is the perfect everyday style.
WHAT TO EXPECT: Your breasts will continue to increase in size but the rapid growth you experienced in the first trimester will start to slow. During the second trimester your rib cage will begin to expand. It is important to get fitted (or to properly self-measure) to ensure that you are wearing the correct bra for your fuller shape – you should be able to comfortably run your finger underneath the band.
WHAT TO BUY: Look for supportive designs that allow you to easily expand the band size, such as Heidi Klum Intimates’ Sabine bra, which comes with six hook and eye closures so you can go up a size as needed. Cut from delicate white lace it proves comfort needn’t come at the cost of style.
WHAT TO EXPECT: Your cup size should stabilise to what will be your nursing size postpartum. Your body is in the final stages of preparing for birth so don’t be surprised if you begin to occasionally leak milk. This is colostrum, the first food for your baby. It contains important antibodies and is easier for your baby to digest than mature breast milk. If you do find that you are producing milk, simply slip nursing pads into your bra to prevent any fluid from seeping into your clothes.
WHAT TO BUY: Larger breasts mean you may find it more comfortable to sleep in a bra. A seam-free style in a sporty shape is the ideal design for night. Spanx’s second-skin, racer-back bra will provide support while you sleep without sacrificing comfort.
WHAT TO EXPECT: A few days after giving birth your milk will come in, making your breasts fluctuate in size (you may also experience pain when this occurs). Check that there is enough room in the cup of your bra to allow for expansion – you should be able to slide your finger underneath the upper cup. After a few weeks your cup size should stabilise as your milk supply becomes regulated.
WHAT TO BUY: If you decide to breastfeed you will need comfortable lingerie that is suitable for nursing. A bra with a drop-down cup and a hook closure, like Stella McCartney’s feminine pale-pink maternity design, makes feeding your baby easy and discreet. Becoming a new mother doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to pretty lingerie. We love how the intricate lace provides an elegant finish to this otherwise practical style.
*We advise you to speak to your GP/health advisor if you notice any abnormal lumps.
Image courtesy of Andria Lindquist