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Q. I'm going into my sixth month of pregnancy with twins and I wanted to know when milk will start forming in my chest?
-Anonymous, New York
A. Some women experience a little leaking of colostrum (a thin, yellowish liquid) a few weeks before delivery, but most don't get even that until after delivery. The real milk usually comes in two to four days after the baby is born. When it does come in, watch out! The "titty fairy" goes a little crazy. If you have ever contemplated getting breast implants, here is your chance to see what the XXL size would look like. The breasts swell to the maximum capacity of the skin and become as hard as rocks.
Q. Two questions: I have just entered my eighth month and while my breasts enlarged initially, they now seem to have gone back to their original size. Is that normal?
Secondly, my nipples and areolas have grown significantly larger. Will they go back to their original size after breastfeeding?
A. During the first few months of pregnancy, the most noticeable bodily change takes place in the breasts. When my flat-chested friend Kelly first became pregnant, I poked at her boob and said, "Hey, that's some good water bra you've got there." She had to confess she was eight weeks pregnant.
Later in pregnancy it may seem that your boobs are not as large as they once were. I think it's due to the fact that the rest of your body (mainly the belly) has grown as well, making the breasts look proportionally smaller.
As for your nipples and areolas, yes, they do become bigger and darker. Believe it or not, dime-sized nipples can expand to be the size of small flapjacks. Usually, after pregnancy and breastfeeding they will shrink and fade a little, but will never return to their former selves. The overall size of your breasts will probably diminish also.
Before my first pregnancy I had perfectly perky 34C boobs. After, they were sagging sacks of 34As. I did breastfeed my first baby for six months, but I don't think that has anything to do with the sorry state of my boobs. In my opinion, it's all based on heredity. Breasts get stretched out during pregnancy, and get no bigger from breastfeeding. Take a look at your mother's breasts (if you have access) to get an idea of how yours may turn out.
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Q. I am 36 weeks pregnant. This is my first child and I started leaking clear, white liquid from my breasts a week ago. Is this normal? Does it mean my body is getting ready to deliver soon? My breasts are starting to feel really sore and painful around the nipple area and they are warmer than usual.
A. Leakage of colostrum, or pre-milk, during pregnancy is perfectly normal. Some women experience it in the last few weeks before delivery. The soreness, pain and warm sensations are your milk glands expanding and revving up their engines for the milk production to come.
It's true that your body is preparing for delivery, but you still may be a few weeks off.
Q. I have had cysts in my left breast from the time I was a young teenager. Now I am 25 weeks pregnant and my left breast is much larger than the right one. The cyst is about the size of an egg but doctors don't seem concerned. My breasts were the same size until I got pregnant. I was wondering if they will be the same size again after the baby is born.
A. Since your doctors are not concerned, I imagine it must be a benign sebaceous or fibroid cyst. In either case they are both known to become enlarged during pregnancy. I cannot say that I know if your cyst will return to its former size after pregnancy or not. It depends on the type of cyst and how your body responds to the hormones of pregnancy coming and going. You may just have to wait and see.
I will tell you of my strange breast–I should say nipple–experience that did not go away after pregnancy. I had an area of darkish skin under my left breast, near the bottom of my rib cage.
I never paid it much mind until about the fourth month of my first pregnancy, when it started to swell up like an engorged tick. I assumed that this fleshy colored nub protruding from my rib was a new mole.
After pregnancy and breastfeeding were over, I consulted a dermatologist regarding the still-existing tick-nub. I was told that it was nipple tissue and it had swollen as a result of the hormones released during pregnancy and it had not returned to its former state.
Fortunately, my "third nipple," as I so named it, was not of the lactating kind, so it only required a fairly simple procedure for removal. I do have a small scar, though. Ah, well, just another battle wound of pregnancy!
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Q. I am only 16 weeks pregnant and both my breasts and nipples are very sore, and my left nipple leaks a lot. I understand this is normal in late pregnancy, but isn't it a little early for that now?
A. Leaking nipples at 16 weeks may seem a little early as compared to the "average," but you are well within the "realm of normality" for pregnancy. What pregnancy symptoms you may experience and when can vary greatly from woman to woman and even from pregnancy to pregnancy within the same woman. Some women have leaky breasts as early as three weeks, and some don't experience this symptom until after the baby is born.
Q. Where exactly do your breasts hurt during early pregnancy?
A. I suppose there can be variation from woman to woman, but I think most people experience soreness throughout the whole breast. I remember thinking it felt very much like PMS boobs, only more intense. At one point, my breasts were so sore I had to readjust the settings on the showerhead. The heavy stream of water really hurt!
Q. I had my son 18 months ago. I did not breastfeed. Even today, I still have milk. I do not leak but if I squeeze the nipple area, milk does appear. Is this normal?
A. Yes. You and your semi-lactating nipples are normal. Most of what you are squeezing out is probably sebaceous liquid, which anyone can produce. A little milk may be coloring the liquid white or a creamy yellow. Some women still have some residual milk as long as two years after giving birth. There are a lot of factors that can affect how quickly your milk ducts dry up, such as diet, breastfeeding, heredity, nipple stimulation and your body's instinctual responses to your baby.
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Q. I am 20 weeks pregnant. There is an area of hardness in both of my breasts that feel like muscles and gets harder towards my nipples. The hardness is more prominent in my right breast. Is this normal?
A. What you are feeling is probably the swelling and development of the milk ducts. And, as you've observed, it doesn't always happen evenly. I remember having my right breast larger than the left and slightly leaking colostrum, while the other remained smaller and dormant for a few weeks. Eventually the left boob caught up to the right and all was even in the bra once again.
If you notice one particular area of hardness that remains for more than a few weeks, do mention it to your OB/GYN at your next appointment. Although it's not common to develop malignant lumps in the breast during pregnancy, it's better to check it out, just in case.
Q. Ever since I had my last child eight years ago, I've had a little leakage from my breasts when having sex. I like to have stimulation there. What could this be?
A. If the leakage from your breasts is creamy in color, it could be that your milk glands have not completely dried up. Some women don't dry up until menopause. The leaking could also just be sebaceous fluid, which is produced by other glands in the breast. In either case, it's quite normal. You have nothing to worry about.
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Q. I'm in my 19th week, and I just noticed that my nipples seem to have developed small, dark lumps like skin tags. Is this part of the normal development process? The lumps don't hurt, but they look kind of odd, like my nipple is dividing into tiny "chambers."
A. I know just what you're talking about! Yes, it is normal, but I, too, was shocked when I noticed my mammaries mutating. The nipples themselves cracked apart into lots of little sections that most resembled taste buds. Upon close inspection, the non-pregnant nipple appears smooth in texture, quite like the rest of your skin. During pregnancy, the little "buds" that appear are milk ducts coming to a head. Did you also know that milk can squirt out of each and every one of these ducts? There can be anywhere from 20 to 50 ducts in each nipple! Before pregnancy, I mistakenly thought the milk would neatly come out of one hole.
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