Did you know that breastfeeding actually starts with conception? In fact, breast changes may be one of the first symptoms you notice before you even get a positive pregnancy test! You may be wondering why your body would need to begin to prepare so early. I mean, after all, you’ve got nine months to get it all together, Right? Well, breastfeeding is actually an intricate process that takes your body some time to get ready. Read on to find out the details of how your breastfeeding body comes to fruition and what a beautiful process it really is.
Your Breasts in the First Trimester
Your breasts are made up of fatty tissue where milk production takes place and they also contain little pockets of cells, called alveoli, which hold the milk in ducts. While you’re preparing to feed your baby in only nine short months, your breasts are busy storing extra fatty tissue and your body is busy increasing the blood flow to the area. Extra blood flow can produce darker looking veins in your breasts. They may appear to have more veins or they may seem bluer than normal but all of this is normal preparation for your body to feed your baby. Your blood flow increases by a third when you get pregnant, almost 20 to 40 percent. You may also notice that your breasts are achy and sore thanks to the extra production of estrogen, progesterone and HCG when you first become pregnant. All this extra fat storage and blood flow can increase the weight of your breasts up to two pounds! Since breast sensitivity will be at an all-time high, now is a good idea to invest in some maternity bras.
Welcoming the Colostrum
There is no greater source of nutrition on Earth than the colostrum that you will first feed to your baby. It contains all the vitamins, minerals and antibodies your baby will need for the first few days of life. For some women, the presence of this thick, yellow substance may make an unwelcomed appearance in the second trimester. But don’t worry! It’s perfectly normal as your body starts to make colostrum between the first and third trimesters. If leaking is a problem, you’ll just need to invest (early!) in some breast pads. Trust us! You’ll need them later anyway.
The Home Stretch
As you round the third trimester, you’ll notice that your nipples and areolas appear darker and may have some bumps, known as Montgomery glands. These glands work to release a slippery substance that helps clean and lubricate the nipples, as well as, provide an enzyme that kills bacteria. At this stage, the inside and outside of your breasts begin to work together to help you successfully nurse your baby.
When your little bundle finally arrives, your body will trigger your breasts to make the milk that your baby will use to grow for the next coming years. It usually takes about 72 hours for your milk to come in. Though it will seem like a lifetime to get your baby in your arms, every week is a delicate path to the journey ahead. Happy Breastfeeding!