Pregnancy is a time of significant hormonal changes. It means many visible changes in the female body. Now add to these various worries and anxieties. Countless questions constantly keep popping up in the anxious mind. For example, many ask if it is right to squeeze their breast during pregnancy?
Finding replies to seemingly simple questions may be pretty challenging, especially considering that very few women can expect to be pregnant more than twice in their lifetime. So, yes, pregnancy may be a normal physiological state, but it is an unusual state.
Moreover, pregnancy-associated hormonal changes cause well-known changes in the breast, like changes in shape and size. Changes in the nipples are especially pronounced. Women also feel the difference in the breast, and some may even experience itching and dryness to make things worse.
Breast in the first trimester
Breast changes are normal in pregnancy, and they start from the very first days of pregnancy. One of the early signs of pregnancy is breast tenderness. Thus, during the first trimester, most women would feel that their nipples have become more sensitive to the touch and even sometimes painful.
Additionally, most would also experience an increase in breast size, and this growth continues throughout the pregnancy.
These changes and the sense of discomfort means that women are more likely to touch their breast from the early days of pregnancy. However, women are less likely to squeeze their breasts at this stage. Nevertheless, some may find comfort in squeezing their breast at this stage.
Breast changes in the second and third semester
All the changes mentioned above continue during the second semester. However, one significant change that occurs is the darkening of the nipples.
It indicates that the breast is preparing itself for milk production. It is the result of various hormonal changes in the body.
Somewhere in the mid of the second trimester, that is, at about 16-weeks of pregnancy, most would start experiencing some nipple discharge. This discharge is colostrum, a special liquid produced in the breast to feed the new one.
It is rich in easy-to-digest proteins and is particularly good for boosting the immunity of the newborn.
It is this nipple discharge that becomes the most significant cause of women squeezing their breasts.
However, it is vital to understand that there are massive individual differences here. It means that there is no hard and fast rule. For example, in some, nipple discharge may occur after 16 weeks, in some in late pregnancy, and some may not experience any nipple discharge at all. And all these situations are absolutely normal.
Is it bad to squeeze your breast during pregnancy?
Not really, of course, if you do not overdo it or become obsessed with it, which may happen in some instances. Else, squeezing the breast now and then would not cause any harm.
Most women start squeezing their breasts due to leakage of nipples for discharge from the nipples. This leakage tends to wet the clothes, which may be sometimes uncomfortable or even embarrassing.
However, experts think that squeezing is not the way forward, and instead, one should consider using breast pads.
Further, one should avoid squeezing the breast of the date of delivery is close. Some observations suggest that squeezing the breast too frequently may initiate untimely labor, something that is not required.
What is colostrum?
As already said, many women experience leakage of the nipples, which is why they start squeezing their breasts. Colostrum is produced in very small amounts. Yet, this liquid is of high value. Most mammals produce colostrum and not just women.
It is highly nutritious for the newborn. It is rich in the easy to digest proteins, bioactive compounds, immune cells, and much more. Some people describe it as liquid gold. It is also rich in vitamin A, B6, B12, And vitamin K. It is high in calories, cholesterol, and minerals like calcium and zinc .
It is the most nutritious food that a newborn can get, and it can have long-term benefits for the child’s health. It provides that high power, fuel highly needed during the first few days when a newborn is still adapting to the world.
Not only that, but colostrum is also good for brain health. It makes a child sleep for longer hours. It ensures that the child grows physically and mentally healthy.
Here, it is vital to understand that science has not discovered all the benefits of colostrum, unlike breastmilk. Nonetheless, keeping in mind that most mammals produce it, it is not difficult to guess that it is a highly nutritious food packed with some of the vital biologically active compounds needed for the long-term survival of humans.
As one can understand, there could be many reasons for squeezing the breast during pregnancy. It could even be habitual due to anxiety and other reasons.
However, in early pregnancy, it is more likely a result of hormonal changes causing changes in the breast. Thus, many women feel some discomfort and tenderness in their breasts, and it may be relieved by squeezing.
However, as the pregnancy progresses, the cause of squeezing becomes the leaking nipples. It is not something that occurs in all cases; nevertheless, it is a common phenomenon.
It may start quite early for some women, after about 16 weeks. Thus, some may squeeze the breast to get rid of the colostrum and avoid leakage from the nipples.
Generally, squeezing does not appear to pose any threat. Nevertheless, one should be careful during the later stages of pregnancy. Some doctors suggest that squeezing the breast too frequently may stimulate the uterus and induce untimely labor.
- Y. de Vries J, Pundir S, Mckenzie E, Keijer J, Kussmann M. Maternal Circulating Vitamin Status and Colostrum Vitamin Composition in Healthy Lactating Women—A Systematic Approach. Nutrients. 2018;10(6):687. doi:10.3390/nu10060687
- Aydin S, Aydin S, Ozkan Y, Kumru S. Ghrelin is present in human colostrum, transitional and mature milk. Peptides. 2006;27(4):878-882. doi:10.1016/j.peptides.2005.08.006
- Bocci V, von BK, Corradeschi F, Franchi F, Luzzi E, Paulesu L. Presence of interferon-gamma and interleukin-6 in colostrum of normal women. Lymphokine Cytokine Res. 1993;12(1):21-24.