Areola When Pregnant
Because the changes to the areola when pregnant can be quite significant, many women want to clarify what these are, either to put their mind at rest that they are normal or, very early on, to help them determine whether or not they could be pregnant.
What Is The Areola?
Before we talk about what happens to the areola when pregnant, let’s just clarify what it is.
You know the circle of skin around the nipple that is darker than the skin on the rest of the breast? Well that is the areola, and it’s not just there for show. The tissue in the areola contains muscle fibres that help nipples to become erect to make nursing a baby easier.
The areola also contains glands:
1. Sweat glands
2. Sebaceous glands - (which release oil to help lubricate the skin)
3. Glands of Montgomery – (these are special glands that also release oil from the areola when pregnant, they help to lubricate and prepare the skin for nursing a baby and they also protect the areola and nipple from becoming infected)
Different women find that the colour of the areola varies. It can be dark brown, light brown, beige or pink depending on your colouring.
Changes To The Areola When Pregnant
When a woman becomes pregnant it is no surprise that some changes occur with her breasts, as these are naturally supposed to be her baby’s only source of nourishment for a good few months.
Usually, the main change to the areola when pregnant is that it becomes darker than it was previously. This normally happens from very early on in a pregnancy, and therefore many women identify that they could be pregnant because of this. The areola may continue to darken throughout the pregnancy.
Another change some women find is that the areola becomes larger and the skin becomes thicker.
Also some find that they have the appearance of pimples on the areola during pregnancy.
This is the glands of Montgomery enlarging to produce more lubricant and protection ready for when baby arrives.
Why The Areola Changes During Pregnancy
Pregnancy hormones are busy at work aiding your body in growing this little life inside and also preparing your body for nursing they baby after it is born.
Your nipples will not be used to being sucked regularly and this can be very sore to begin with. But the discomfort is eased with the help of the glands of Montgomery, secreting the oils to help prepare and toughen your skin and protect it from infection.
Some believe that the darkening of the areola when pregnant helps the baby to pinpoint where the milk comes out in the early stages when its eyesight is blurred. The contrast of the dark skin again the lighter skin on the rest of the breast shows up where the baby needs to place its little mouth.
The changes in your nipples, usually that they have become larger, will also make it easier for baby to latch on.
What Can You Do To Help?
Although your body naturally provides the right lubricants and protection to help you with breastfeeding your baby in an amazing way, there are things you can do to help as well.
You may have heard of a nipple cream called Lanisoh? I can speak from experience in saying that it truly is a wonder when you are breastfeeding and are really sore.
Just a light coating of this product on the nipple will help to heal sore patches and cracks, and it is perfectly safe for baby to suck on as well.
However, some women have tried using Lanisoh on the nipples and areola when pregnant because it helps the glands of Montgomery to secrete their oils and toughens the skin. This is something new I have learned and will be trying next time!
The other good tip is not to use soap on the nipple or areola during pregnancy as this washes off the natural oils produced and dries out the skin, making it more prone to cracking and soreness.
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