Oh, those changes your body goes through during pregnancy. And after it. And after breastfeeding. It’s all for a good cause, of course, but some of these changes might make you feel a bit self-conscious.
Plus, you might wonder, “Is this how I will look forever?” Well, I have some mostly good news…much of the changes your body goes through after pregnancy and after breastfeeding will return to normal when it comes to your nipples. Some won’t go, though. And for some women, they will and they won’t. I know, totally vague.
Don’t blame me. It’s those hormones, doll. 😀
Here’s the rundown of the common nipple changes you’ll notice going on during pregnancy, post-partum, and while breastfeeding.
Dark and Bumpy Nipples
Hormones, hormones, hormones. That’s the short answer.
It can start in the first trimester as the glands on your areola (called Montgomery’s glands), and your nipples themselves become more prominent. They look darker too, don’t they? That’s because your hormones are prompting the release of pigment-producing cells.
Will this last? Nope! A few months after you have that sweet baby, your nipples will return to their natural coloring.
Sore, Cracked Nipples
This one, of course, happens when you’re nursing your baby. It’s very typical to get sore nipples when you first start breastfeeding. I always had a tube of nipple cream on my nightstand for this very reason. My breastfeeding coach Vivien had recommended it.
Side note: It also works in a pinch for dry, cracked hands and feet during winter. Try it!
I will say this, though…you should be sure you get a proper latch with your baby. I talked about useful latch techniques in this post. As I said, it’s normal for some nipple pain in the beginning as you get used to this whole mom thing.
But watch your baby to see if she’s gaining enough weight and making enough dirty diapers. It could be that you’re just not getting the right latch on there, which is causing the soreness.
Will it stop?
Yes! And it will end before you’re all done with breastfeeding, so hang in there!
Hey, guess what other fun happens to you with your nipples? They will leak! This may start while you’re pregnant as your breasts get ready with that liquid gold known as colostrum to feed your baby with. For me, it didn’t, but for many friends of mine, they started leaking out milk before their babies were born.
One of my friends was about 36 weeks along when she was at the supermarket. She minded her own business, pushing her cart down the aisles, when a baby in another aisle began to cry. To her horror, her breasts leaked out milk all over her shirt, and it was, according to her, hugely noticeable.
Lucky for her, it was chilly outside, and she had her jacket with her, so she covered up with that.
During your postpartum days, especially soon after having your baby, you will be VERY prone to milk leakage out of your nipples. The easiest way to deal with this is to use breast pads in your bra. They absorb any of this leakage and prevent mega-embarrassment.
Changes in Shape
Something else that starts to happen during pregnancy is the shape of your nipples. You may notice, along with their darkening, that they get larger. If you’ve always had large nipples, like my friend Amanda told me, you won’t notice a change in shape.
Those of us who have smaller-sized nipples will start to become alarmed. Mine got bigger, and they stayed mostly that way too. Even still. Other friends of mine were happy to report that their nipples appeared to return more or less to the size they were.
In essence, it’s a crap-shoot. On the plus side, your husband will be impressed.
Nothing to worry about
But with all these changes, you really shouldn’t worry. They’re all quite normal. And while some of you will go back to looking like you did before pregnancy, others won’t. If any of it concerns you, you should bring it up during your prenatal checkups or that post-natal exam you get a few weeks after having your baby.
Most of the time, there’s nothing to worry about. Besides, you’ll be too tired with that sweet baby to really care too much. And by the time you think about it again, you’ll be over worrying about how your nipples look, believe me!
Leslie Berry lives with her husband and two young daughters in Los Altos, California where she loves helping other moms get comfortable with motherhood and embracing the insanity with facts peppered with laughs. She loves eating too much sushi, exercise, and jamming out on her Fender.