During pregnancy, women's breasts change dramatically, increasing in size and darkening slightly. They may look voluptuous and sexy, but they often feel anything but. Unfortunately, heavy breasts are not a sign that labor is imminent, although they do indicate that your pregnancy is progressing and you'll deliver the baby soon.
You may notice a tingling sensation in your breasts just a few days after conception. This feeling is the result of increases in hormones that prepare your body for pregnancy. The tingling sensation usually subsides within a few weeks, but your breasts may feel tender throughout the pregnancy. Breasts become larger and the nipples darken. The breasts may leak a white or yellow fluid, known as colostrum for several months.
A Sign of Labor
Most women have heavy, sore breasts throughout the last few months of pregnancy. Women who already have large breasts may notice this most. Although every woman is different, sore, heavy breasts generally are not a sign of labor but one of the normal discomforts of pregnancy.
Wear a supportive bra during the last few months of pregnancy to reduce soreness. Go braless whenever you are lying down and relax in a bathtub or pool. Water not only eases the discomfort of heavy breasts but can reduce joint and back aches, as well.
Do not roughen your nipples in preparation for breastfeeding but wash them to remove any colostrum and apply a moisturizing cream.
Early Signs of Labor
Many women wonder if they'll recognize the early signs of labor but don't worry. Most first-timers have plenty of time to make it to the hospital before the baby arrives. Although heavy breasts are not usually a sign of labor, you may notice a dull, low backache, increased vaginal discharge, frequent urination and cramps and swelling in the days before labor begins. The most reliable signs that labor truly has started are contractions that gain in intensity and duration and leaking water. Labor progresses quickly for many women once the water breaks.
- "The Birth Book"; William Sears, M.D., et al.; 1994
- "Great Expectations"; Sandy Jones, et al.; 2004
- "The Natural Pregnancy Book"; Aviva Jill Romm; 2003