Pregnancy is beautiful, but many women have breast issues after childbirth. This happens because the breasts change during pregnancy to prepare them for feeding the infant.
The changes are caused by a hormone increase and can lead to these signs:
- Breast pain and tenderness, including a change in sensation of the breast or nipple
- Larger breast size
- Changes in the size and color of the nipples and areolae
- Larger glands at the center of the breast
Please continue reading if you were recently pregnant and want to improve your post-pregnancy breast issues.
Common Breast Problems After Pregnancy
According to Double Board Certified Plastic Surgeon Dr. Smita Ramanadham, “Many women who have problems with their breasts after pregnancy might feel alone and upset. This is understandable, but they shouldn’t feel hopeless. These are common problems that many women have, and they can be solved.”
Below are the most common issues with the breasts after pregnancy and what to do about them:
Cracked Or Sore Nipples
Sore nipples are possibly the biggest problem that women report during breastfeeding.
This problem may be attributed to the baby not latching correctly onto the breast. If the infant only sucks the nipple, the roof of the mouth or tongue can irritate the nipple.
A possible solution is taking the baby off and trying again. Use both breasts if necessary, and make several attempts to get the baby latched right.
You may want to try deep breathing, relaxing music, and other relaxation methods. Also, nurse on the breast that hurts the least, gently massage the breast when you nurse.
Note that the nipples cannot heal if the baby doesn’t latch on correctly, so keep working on getting the baby nursing correctly. If this problem persists, you may want to switch to bottle-feeding temporarily.
Breast engorgement happens when the breasts have too much milk. This problem may make your breasts feel too firm and even throbbing.
If you have breast engorgement, it’s essential to ensure your baby attaches to the breast right. You can treat this problem by feeding the baby more often and squeezing the milk out with a breast pump. This can help the baby attach better to the breast.
Try these tips to treat engorgement:
- Use a nursing bra that fits well
- If the breasts are leaking milk, use warm flannel on them before expressing
- Take paracetamol at a dose your doctor recommends
Also, you may need to feed the baby as many as 12 times a day. This will reduce swelling and lessen the pain in your breasts.
Blocked Milk Ducts
A milk duct can get blocked when you breastfeed. This also may happen when you stop the practice. As a result, you may feel a hard lump in the breast. These tips may help:
- Feed baby more often
- Change your feeding position so the breast can fully drain
- Massage the blocked duct towards your nipple as the baby feeds
- Ensure your clothes and bra don’t fit too snugly
Some women report breast tingling while they nurse. This may be because the breast milk is released into the ducts. After a few weeks, this sensation may fade.
Note that the tingling sensation can’t gauge how much milk the baby is consuming.
Larger Cup Size
Most women’s breasts enlarge during pregnancy; you can expect to go up one or two cup sizes for at least a few months. But the breasts will be larger until you stop breastfeeding.
You may want to limit the number of new bras or tightfitting clothes you wear until your breasts go back to their standard size.
If your engorgement or blocked milk duct progresses, you may develop an infection or inflammation called mastitis.
Your breast may become red, painful, and warm to the touch. It can also feel like the flu, with nausea, temperature, and headaches.
Be sure to feed the baby often in the infected breast because this eliminates the infection. Don’t worry, it won’t hurt your baby.
If you don’t have the infection or mastitis treated, you may get a breast abscess. This is a collection of pus in the breast that needs prompt treatment.
Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics, or she may drain the abscess with a syringe.
You get a yeast infection on the nipple and areola while you breastfeed. It also can happen after cracking in the nipple. Some women have it happen suddenly, even after breastfeeding for months.
Symptoms of thrush include a nipple that is painful, itchy, and sensitive to the touch. Women also may have pain deep in the breast after breastfeeding.
Your doctor may have trouble diagnosing this problem because symptoms are similar to the baby not latching to the breast properly.
Note that the baby may have thrush symptoms, too. Signs of thrush include the development of a white patch on the tongue or mouth. Some babies also have mouth soreness that can cause crankiness and restlessness during feeding.
If you think you have thrush, talk to your doctor immediately because both you and your baby may need treatment.
After you’re pregnant, remember that the breasts may not look or feel as they did before. Whether you breastfed or not, you may need time to adjust to the feel and appearance of the breasts after pregnancy.
These changes are normal for women who have been pregnant. The good news is you can treat many post-pregnancy breast issues with the tips outlined here. And if you want to make your breasts look as they did before, you could have a breast lift or breast augmentation after having children.