It’s normal to notice breast changes after pregnancy

Photo: Dummer

It’s normal to notice changes to your breasts during and after pregnancy. But it’s still important to be breast aware at this time and get any new lumps or any other changes that are new for you checked.

You may have seen a news story recently about a young woman who was diagnosed with breast cancer after trying to breastfeed her baby son. According to the newspaper, her baby became distressed when she tried to feed him from her right breast.

While her experience may be unusual, it does highlight an issue that many women face – that it can be hard to know how your breasts should look and feel when you’re pregnant and afterwards.

Breast changes during breastfeeding

Your breasts go through a lot of changes during and after pregnancy. Many of the changes that happen during pregnancy are caused by hormones and happen to prepare the breasts for breastfeeding.

Lumps in the breast can occur during this time. The most common ones are:

These are all benign (not cancer) breast conditions.

Sometimes, when breastfeeding, a milk duct in the breast can become blocked. This may cause a small, painful, hard lump. Gently massaging the lump towards the nipple before feeding can help clear it. 

Breast cancer in women of child-bearing age is uncommon, so the vast majority of lumps in younger women will be benign. However, it’s still important to get any new lumps checked.

If you notice changes while breastfeeding

If you’ve noticed a change in your breast and you’re unsure about it, speak to your GP.

Signs and symptoms to report include:

  • a change in size or shape
  • a lump or area that feels thicker than the rest of the breast
  • a change in skin texture such as puckering or dimpling (like the skin of an orange)
  • redness or rash on the skin and/or around the nipple
  • your nipple has become inverted (pulled in) or looks different (for example changed its position or shape)
  • liquid (sometimes called discharge) that comes from the nipple without squeezing
  • constant pain in your breast or your armpit
  • a swelling in your armpit or around your collarbone.

While most breast changes aren’t cancer, it’s important to find out what’s causing the change.

Feeling worried?

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