Though the changes your breasts encounter during pregnancy are completely normal, there are a few things you should be aware of in case there is a problem.
- Inverted Nipples: Sometimes, the nipples can turn inside, says Kirkwood, and this can lead to trouble once you begin breastfeeding. If you notice flattened or inverted nipples, make sure the baby takes much of the areola into her mouth. This makes for a good latch and will help to encourage the nipple to express milk.
- Engorgement: This filling of the breasts can be extremely painful for a new mother. Your body is producing milk like crazy, and you may not be nursing enough to relieve the pressure. "Apply chilled ice packs to breasts between feedings and try a warm shower right before nursing," says Huml. This will slow down the milk production and minimize the pain for you.
- Clogged Duct: When a milk duct gets clogged, it can become painful and make it difficult to nurse. Speaking from personal experience, Kirkwood says, "Warm compresses were helpful but the best thing was to have the baby nurse and massage the duct." It's important to nurse often in this situation, as a clogged duct can lead to mastitis.
- Mastitis: This painful condition can develop during pregnancy and after delivery says Dr. Robert Atlas, MD, chairman of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Mercy Medical Center. Whether spurned on by a clogged duct or a cracked nipple, mastitis occurs when one area of the breast is hard or sore. This is an infection that can be treated with antibiotics. Since cracked nipples are usually the cause, it's important to treat them with lanolin or another cream to ensure they heal properly.