St. Augustine Woman's Journal - Educational Resource to the Women of St. Johns County Since 2009

By Susan Detar CFm
The Pink Door 

Are You an Expectant or Nursing Mother?


April 1, 2017 | View PDF

As you may already know, one of the earliest physical signs of pregnancy can be breast tenderness. At some point in your pregnancy (often but not always around the second month), breasts will start becoming larger as they prepare to nurse the new arrival. Some women experience this as a feeling of fullness rather than actual increase in size, and others are very aware of needing a larger cup size.

Some women will continue to increase in cup size over the course of their pregnancy, and others find they have an increase during their first trimester, and not again until close to the end of their pregnancy. As your belly increases in size, your rib cage (band) measurement will also likely increase.

Women who are petite or carrying high will often experience more increase in rib band than women who are taller or carrying low. Generally, most women increase one or two cup sizes and one or two rib band sizes over the course of their pregnancy.

Then, for the first few days after giving birth, when you breastfeed, your baby receives colostrum. At around the third day, your milk will 'come in'. At that point, you can experience an increase of one or two more cup sizes from your third trimester.

Typically after about 6 weeks to a few months of nursing, these fluctuations settle down. You will have established your breastfeeding relationship and routine, and will usually decrease a few cup sizes. As well, around this point, your rib band size will begin to go back to your pre-pregnancy size. This is the size you will likely stay until you finish breastfeeding. That is, at about your pre-pregnancy rib band size, and up one cup size. The ideal time to size for a nursing bra is during the last few weeks of your pregnancy which will ensure a good prediction of your size once your milk comes in.

It's a great idea for a pregnant mom to go with a nursing bra when she begins to feel her prepregnancy bras are no longer working for her rather than a traditional bra, so she can get double duty out of it by also using it to nurse when she has her baby. Both during pregnancy and breastfeeding, a woman's skin and nipples in particular can become extremely sensitive, even to the point of being sore. Moisture is a serious consideration: when breasts leak, it is important that the wetness does not stay next to the skin because this can result in irritation or infection.

Using breast pads will absorb moisture and wick moisture away from the body so the nipple area remains dry. Both disposable and reusable pads are available. While disposable may be cheaper, reusable pads are much softer and "green".

During your pregnancy you may also be experiencing abdominal straining, backache, hip separation, pubic symphysis and ankle and leg swelling. You might even feel that you have the sensation of "everything is going to fall out the bottom". There are a number of supportive garments to alleviate any pain or discomfort you feel. By cradling the torso, these garments support strained muscles, encourage better posture and provide relief.

Some women develop vulvar varicosities which are swollen veins in the pelvic area caused by the increased weight of the uterus. A supportive device with compressive properties will help keep the veins from swelling. This condition typically resolves after the birth of the baby.

If you are interested in learning more about the benefits of nursing your baby, your local health department has a Lactation Peer Counselor on staff. Contact information: St. Johns County, (904) 825-5055 ext. 1110. Putnam County, (386) 326-3251.

Susan Detar is a Certified Mastectomy Fitter. The Pink Door is an accredited post-mastectomy care center. Our mission statement: "The Pink Door will be recognized as the preferred provider of foundations to women affected by breast cancer. We will offer a wide selection of products in a knowledgeable and caring environment. Our goal is to fulfill 80% of our customers' needs on the first visit." This mission extends to all women who walk through the door. You will be served in a warm, inviting boutique occupying a home in the south historic district of Palatka. Our job is to provide products that will make you look and feel better.


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