Your Marvelous Changing Bust And What You Need To Know- Breast Changes In Pregnancy

by Jessica Martin-Weber with Tracey Montford
This post made possible by the generous support of Cake Lingerie.

Breasts change throughout our lives are influenced by hormones, genetics, age, and other factors. For many, after puberty, the most noticeable change comes with pregnancy and breastfeeding. It can be helpful to know what to expect and what may help with comfort through these times of transition for our breasts and what to look for bras that provide gentle transitional support. You may not recognize your breasts with all the changes you may experience in pregnancy and breastfeeding but you still can have support, comfort, and know what you need to know to enjoy your marvelous changing bust.

Breast changes in pregnancy

For some, breasts are like their own personal magic 8 ball. Give them a little shake, ask them a question, and see what the answer is. Should I wear that underwire or go with the yoga bra? Is it a good day for potato chips or should it be salad? Should I carry pads with me or is it going to be 9 months before I need those? Or boobs are like horses. Gently pat them and ask “is it looking like rain, snow, or ice today girls?” “What do you think, facing the red flood or are we pushing a new human being out in less than a year?” “Are we craving chocolate or need a puke bucket?”

Second to puberty, during pregnancy breasts tend to experience significant growth and change. Thanks to pregnancy, it’s like you get to relive the wonders and magic of puberty all over again only this time, strangers may want to rub your belly and ask you what you’re having. (A human, we can safely guess you’re having a human!)

Pregnancy triggers the breasts to prepare for lactation to feed the developing baby after birth. The grape-like clusters of milk making tissue in the breast begin to increase in volume and number causing the tissue to expand. Yes, your boobs typically are going to grow in pregnancy- likely the biggest and most noticeable change to you’re breasts you’re going to experience since you were 11 years old. So many breast changes in pregnancy, milk making tissue expands, you grow more milk making tissue, blood flow increases, the tissue becomes more dense, the nipples and areola darken and often grow, and more. This involuntary biological response is often the first noticeable symptom of pregnancy for many women and can be quite sudden. Others may not notice any change until later in their pregnancy. Those that experience discomfort during their regular cycle are more likely to experience additional discomfort during pregnancy. Be kind to your breasts, understand that every individual and every pregnancy is unique, and find what helps you feel comfortable in this time of transition.

*Note: No change at all may be an indicator, along with other markers, of a lack of glandular tissue and should be discussed with a health care provider. This alone is not a determinant factor or sign of future breastmilk supply.

Breast changes common in pregnancy- first trimester

  • Rapid growth sometimes even before positive pregnancy test.
  • Tissue may feel more dense.
  • Achy pain is common and may last for weeks.
  • Skin my itch and be sensitive.
  • Nipples may become more tender and sensitive.
  • Areola may begin to get larger.
  • Rapid growth may lead to stretch marks on the breast.
  • Veins may become more visible as the skin gets thinner.

Support for breast changes in first trimester

As your breast size and shape may begin to change rapidly with growth being common, a transitional bra that offers flexible support with a size range in cup sizes my minimize discomfort and sensitivity. Look for a bra that is very soft with minimal structuring while providing support with a wide band and fabric that gives, providing gentle support. Some breasts change 5-6 cup sizes, it may be necessary to shop for new bras that accommodate the new breast growth. Limiting refined sugars and caffeine may also reduce discomfort.

Breast changes common in pregnancy- second trimester

  • Growth may slow down or even stop.
  • Sensitivity usually lessens.
  • The nipples and areolas may begin to darken.
  • The areola may continue to get larger.
  • To accommodate the growing baby, the rib cage may begin to expand.
  • More blueish veins may be visible under the surface as blood volume increases.

Support for breast changes in the second trimester

The second trimester tends to be more stable with changes slowing down and discomfort decreasing. If breast growth has slowed or ceased altogether, wearing a more structured bra may be more comfortable. As the rib cage begins to expand adding an expander may provide more comfort or getting sized for a better fitting bra may be necessary. During pregnancy, blood volume typically doubles and due to the thinner nature of the skin of chest area, veins may become more visible under the surface.

Breast changes common in pregnancy- third trimester

  • Some discharge or dried flakes of colostrum may be noticed on the nipple.
  • Breasts may become more sensitive again.
  • Growth may increase again.
  • Rib cage expands further as the hormone relaxin loosens tissue and baby gets bigger.
  • Breasts may begin to feel more heavy.
  • Nipples may become more sensitive to touch.
  • Areola may darken.
  • Areola may grow larger.
  • Bumps on areola may be more noticeable (Montgomery Glands).

Support for breast changes in the third trimester

As the body prepares to feed the growing baby, the breasts again enter a time of transition, particularly closer to the due date. Structured bras may be uncomfortable and compress the tissue and as more milk producing tissue develops, breast size may be in flux. A soft, supportive transitional bra may be more comfortable during this time and into the immediate postpartum. Some may notice their breasts beginning to leak or to find dried bits of colostrum on their nipple or on their bra. Though it is unusual for leaking to be noticeable through clothing in the third trimester, soft nursing pads can be used to absorb any leaks and prevent soaking through and may be more comfortable. Montgomery Glands around the nipple and on the areola my increase in size. These glands secrete an oil (lipoid fluid) that helps keep the areola and the nipple lubricated and protected and the smell of this oil may serve as a signal to the newborn of where to latch and suckle.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding breast myths

  • Myth: Use a toothbrush or rough cloth to toughen up nipples for breastfeeding.There is no need to prepare nipples for breastfeeding by using anything on your nipples. Nipples naturally prepare themselves. The one exception could be with inverted nipples needing to be drawn out. To prepare for breastfeeding, take a class, read materials, and if you are concerned, meet with an IBCLC or other breastfeeding support person to have your breasts evaluated.
  • Myth: Breast size indicates how much milk you will makeWhile your breast size may indicate how much milk your breasts may store, breast size is not an indicator of breastmilk supply. Shape of breasts and the space between the breasts may indicate how much glandular tissue is present which may impact milk supply but this can impact breasts of all sizes. If you are concerned, see an IBCLC or other breastfeeding support person to have your breasts evaluated.
  • Myth: Breastfeeding causes breasts to sag. It isn’t breastfeeding that causes sag, it is thought to be a combination of factors such as genetics and pregnancy. While breast tissue changes in density sometimes through pregnancy and breastfeeding, breastfeeding doesn’t mean sag. Read more in this study here.
  • Myth: No leaking means you don’t have milk. Some breasts never leak through pregnancy or breastfeeding but this is not a sign breastmilk supply or ability to breastfeed.
  • Myth: Inverted or flat nipples mean you can’t breastfeed. Inverted or flat nipples do not automatically mean baby won’t latch. Often inverted or flat nipples are drawn out with breastfeeding and there are options to help otherwise, even before baby is born. If you are concerned, see an IBCLC or other breastfeeding support person to have your breasts evaluated.

The hormonal response of breast changes through pregnancy all lead up to breastfeeding. There are more changes through breastfeeding and then again through weaning but the majority of the breast changes take place in pregnancy. 

How the right bra can make a difference

A good bra that fits well and accommodates these important changes in pregnancy and through breastfeeding can make a difference in comfort levels in this time of flux. Some bra fitting tips for the stages of pregnancy and breastfeeding:

  • Band should be snug but not tight. The majority of the support comes from the band, not the shoulder straps. Be sure it sits straight around the body for best fit. If it feels tight but is the right size, try loosening the shoulder straps some and pull the band down in the back. A band riding up in the back compromises fit and support.
  • Center front sits plat on chest, breasts fit comfortably within the cups.
  • Straps fit comfortably, not digging into shoulders or slipping off. 
  • Flexible sizing with minimal structure. Look for a transitional bra such as Cake Lingerie’s maternity and nursing bras, Rock Candy, Cotton Candy, and Sugar Candy, that accommodate 4-5 cup sizes with supportive fabric that has give. This doesn’t mean you have to accept uniboob, a good transitional bra will provide gentle lift, separation, and support.

Get your best fit with this step-by-step fit guide and calculator.

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Use the discount code TLB15 for 15% off at cakematernity.com.

Tracey Montford created Cake Lingerie in 2008 when she wanted bras that worked for the modern mother. With a background in creative arts and teaching, she never imagined having her own business, let alone creating one out of her own personal need. She now owns and runs Cake Lingerie from Sydney, Australia with her husband, Keith and their children.
Drawing from a diverse background in the performing arts and midwifery, Jessica Martin-Weber supports women and families, creating spaces for open dialogue. Writer and speaker, Jessica is the creator of TheLeakyBoob.com, co-creator of BeyondMoi.com, freelance writer, and co-founder of Milk: An Infant Feeding Conference. Jessica lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest and co-parents her 7 daughters with her husband of 22 years.

 

 

 

 

 

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Lucky’s Birth – Live!, with My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear


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This special occasion made possible by the generous support of My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear.

 

Ever since we live streamed Sugarbaby’s birth 5 years ago, we have received message after message from people thanking us for showing how calm and beautiful birth can be. And ever since we announced this pregnancy, we have received message after message from people asking us if we are going to live stream Lucky’s birth too. Yes, it’s a private event for our family, but we also consider this a wonderful opportunity for us to do our part in re-normalizing birth as a biological event first, that is medicalized only if absolutely necessary. We consider it an educational opportunity for the masses!

We will start the live stream (below the Live Chat window) once labor officially kicks in. Labor could last just a few hours (or less!) and go for 24 hours or more. There’s no predicting just how long it’ll take. We have recruited some special help to keep things interesting. First we will have someone from our team interacting in the Live Chat window below, posting tidbits of information regarding the birth, and actively answering your questions.

Second, Lavinia is excited to act the part of interviewer for a number of short FB Live Streams were calling Featurettes. She’ll be discussing several topics with our birth team and family, from what the midwives need to do to get set up, to what our kids are doing to help celebrate their little sister’s birth (spoiler alert: there may be cake). These featurettes will be separate from the static live feed below.

Feel free to share this exciting event with your friends, family, and strangers online!

Below the Live Chat window and the Live feed, we are featuring a number of brands that believe in the importance of education relating to motherhood, family, and health – their featured products represent their commitment to supporting mothers and their families.

Enter your username

 

 

A huge thank you to our Title Sponsor: My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear.

To help celebrate Lucky’s arrival, My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear is offering 7 Rainbow Keepsake Kits, one for each of 7 Lucky winners!

The Rainbow Keepsake Kit is a beautiful way to celebrate or honor a life. Accessorize your Heartbeat Animal with a rainbow tutu, rainbow bowtie, or both. Comes with a 13-15″ stuffed animal of your choice and heart-shaped recorder. A $39.99 value. 

To enter this giveaway, please use the widget at the end of this post. 

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A big thank you to Earth Mama Organics and Andaluz Waterbirth Center for co-sponsoring Lucky’s big day!

Be sure to check on The Leaky Boob Facebook page for fun featurettes full of home birthing facts, thanks to My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear, Earth Mama Organics, and Andaluz.

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From the positive test to the big push, from the first latch to the thousandth diaper, Earth Mama effectively supports the miraculous wonders and common indignities of motherhood with effective, natural herbal care. They know the fierce love, gut-wrenching fear, and boundless joy, that are simultaneously present and part of the process, because they’ve been there. And they’re here to tell you:

You’ve got this
You’re not alone
And by the way: 
You’re amazing 

Hemorrhoids and all. 

Earth Mama wants you to know about the importance of Lying-in after birth. As defined on their website, “‘Lying-in’ is the period of time for a postpartum mama to heal and bond with her newborn. It’s a time to take care of the mama that made the miracle, and heal her body and soul while she gets to know every crease, dimple, and the sweet scent of her brand new baby.”

Read all about this important time on their blog.

Earth Mama has developed a range of products focused on healing and soothing postpartum mamas, including their Organic Monthly Comfort Tea and Postpartum Bath Herbs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We are thrilled to be on this baby journey with the amazing midwifery team at Andaluz Waterbirth Center here in Portland, Oregon. Their beautiful birth center, with its big birthing tubs and homey feel, would have easily swayed us into having our Lucky there if our hearts weren’t hard set on continuing our home birthing tradition! Anyone in the greater Portland area interested in having a midwife-assisted birth should definitely take the tour. Andaluz Waterbirth Center is just about as charming as its midwives, who embody the simplicity, beauty, and spirituality inherent in bringing new life into the world. There is an art between applying knowledge and letting nature take its course, and these competent midwives know just how to manage that balance.

Follow Andaluz Waterbirth Center on Facebook!

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Getting Ready For Baby And How We “Do It All” (Lucky’s Birth Live Feed Test)

We’re often asked how we prepare our family for a new baby, how we set up our birth space, and how we “do it all” with kids, managing our business, homeschooling some of our children (3), household responsibilities, our marriage, etc.

Sometimes we write about it but we decided that since we need to test out the tech set up for the birth, maybe we should just show you. Unpolished, unrehearsed, this video is us sharing our real life.

Check out our chat feature too, say hi and help us test it. This feature will be utilized during the birth live feed for interaction and to answer questions. We’d appreciate your help in testing this feature, thanks!

Enter your username

 

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Belly Painting- Celebrating and Commemorating Pregnancy With Your Children

By Jessica Martin-Weber with Squiggle Bug, Smunchie, Sugarbaby, and Jeremy Martin-Weber

Each person deserves to be celebrated. A theme that is common in our family. Most often , the ways we find to celebrate are small and simple but very special.

We’re going to show one way we enjoy celebrating a coming baby. Belly painting! Together we cooperate to celebrate and commemorate the new person joining our family with creative expression.

Today we already agreed on a seasonal theme but it could be anything! Comment telling us what you’ve done to celebrate a pregnancy and the new family member joining your family.

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The Serious Injury No One is Talking About: Diastasis Recti

by Nicole Nexon, MSPT

This post made possible by the generous support of Chunkabuns

 

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Sometimes I feel like exercise has become a dirty word in the mommy sphere. I can understand that.

We get this message that we need to do everything – work, raise babies, maintain perfect households, create Pinterest worthy projects, not burn dinner… and erase any shred of evidence that our bodies have created life. Society settled on the idea that skinny = perfect and the backlash from that led to a movement of pride in our bodies. Which somehow turned in to “ real woman have curves “ and all kinds of craziness about skinny girls and curvy girls and…

It’s out of control.

And what has been missed in all of this is the truth of the matter – it’s not about skinny. It’s not about having curves or not having curves. It’s not about “mummy tummies” or thigh gap or muffin tops.

It’s about being healthy.

And not “healthy” in a way that has been co-opted by people meaning “stop eating junk food you fatty!” Healthy in way that allows people to live their lives in a manner they choose. Healthy in a way that allows you to lift babies and chase toddlers and carry laundry wherever you need to carry your laundry. Healthy in a way that makes you feel confident, that lets you sleep well and go about your life.

What happens when you’re injured…and you don’t even know it?

When I was pregnant with my second daughter, I began to feel a pretty distinct pain by my belly button. It was so specific that I was fairly certain I was developing an umbilical hernia. I brought it up with my midwife and was told it wasn’t a hernia. I was developing a diastasis recti – a split between the muscles and muscular tissue that runs down the center of the abdomen. The pressure inside from an expanding uterus/baby was just too much for the abdominal tissue to handle so the tissue and muscles were separating.

With my first pregnancy, I worked in an outpatient clinic that was less physically demanding. With this second pregnancy, my current position required a lot of physical lifting as a physical therapist in a subacute center for patients who were not sick enough for the hospital, not well enough to go home. I already had work restrictions due to the physical requirements of my job; working with those restrictions AND dealing with a developing case of Diastasis Recti made the restrictions even more difficult.

It was in this position that I recognized a growing group of people in need of support, awareness, and healing of Diastasis Recti: new moms.

Here were these women, trying to juggle new responsibilities, healing from the changes their bodies went through during pregnancy and subsequent post-partum recovery and there was little to no support or even awareness about the problems that Diastasis Recti presented.

Diastasis Recti can affect your body in some pretty drastic ways.

  • -Incontinence
  • -Irregular bowel movements,
  • -Lower back pain, spinal or hip injuries due to your abdominal muscle’s inability to support your body when you’re lifting or bending
  • -Pain during sexual intercourse
  • -Increased chance of sciatica or disc issues
  • -Increased chance of umbilical hernia
  • -Postural instability due to poor strength of the abdominal muscles

The effects are numerous.

Now it was MY body that was going to need to be supported.

My body that was going to need help carrying a car seat. A baby. My toddler. The laundry.

My body that was going to be more prone to injury- that would need me to completely rethink how I went about my day. I worked out through my pregnancy because I knew what was ahead of me. I knew my core was going to be compromised. I wanted to achieve a VBAC and I knew I would need endurance (among other things) to prevent a repeated OR experience. I went back to my books and read studies on exercise efficacy. I reviewed exercise programs for pregnant women, post partum women, and people who had just had abdominal or back surgery. I had a plan, and I HAD to be as physically strong as I could when I returned from maternity leave so I could perform my job effectively.

I ended up with a VBAC, a baby girl, and a three-finger diastasis.

*when I say “three-finger diastasis” I am describing how many fingers I can horizontally fit across the tissue separation. To find this, lay on the floor with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lift up your head slightly and contract your abdomen muscles gently. Find your belly button and make the “scout symbol” with your fingers…see how many you can fit in there. i.e. 1 finger, 3 fingers, etc. Check the same line down by your pelvis, and again up towards your ribs. Different points along your abdominal muscles may be different fingers of separation.

 


I feel blessed that my passion and my education allowed me to understand what my body needs to function well and heal from my condition. I am grateful for my colleagues and friends with whom I can discuss ideas or count on to help me with the hands-on techniques I can’t perform on myself. I know I am lucky to have access to the information that I have.

I want other women to have this valuable access to connections and resources that are out there for those recovering from Diastasis Recti.

I want women to know that sometimes “mummy tummy” can actually be caused by a medical condition.

I want women to know that the media are not medical professionals and there is a wide range of “normal” when it comes to our bodies.

I want other mothers to know that exercise and eating well are available to them.

I want women to know there are safe exercise routines that WON’T injure a body healing from Diastasis Recti. That recovering doesn’t need to be a series of scary, out-of-reach experiences. They don’t need to spend hours in the gym (Though you certainly can, if you enjoy it!).

Recovering means that you can take a walk, be it pushing a stroller or wearing a baby. You can do squats in your living room, jumping jacks, and eventually pushups and planks. (But until you’ve healed from your diastasis, it is best to do modified planks so that you don’t further separate your diastasis or have your abdominal muscles work against you or push on that separation while you’re healing!)

I feel sad when I hear people say “I can’t workout because…”

I feel sad because they are being taught that only the big efforts count.

That’s not true.

I work with people for whom sitting at the edge of their bed is enormous effort, and standing requires assistance of others. When you see the enormous joy on a person’s face brought by these small yet enormous victories, you begin to understand the true beauty of the movement our bodies are capable of. What may seem like a small victory may be an enormous triumph-a giant step towards hope and healing.

Misguided emphasis on skinny and perfect or the fear of never being _____ enough WILL STOP US in our tracks.

Enough.

You are enough.

It’s ok to start small.

It’s ok to fail.

It’s ok to not be perfect.

It’s ok to be YOU.

It’s not about meeting someone else’s standards.

It’s about taking care of yourself, teaching your family that our bodies are a great gift and we should treat them well. It’s about understanding that you are worthy of the time and energy it will take to begin, to HEAL, and to build healthy habits that facilitate that healing and well being.

Let’s get moving, because moving not only transforms your body, but it transforms your mind, no matter what size jeans you wear.

Some Exercises to Get You  Started:

Some Other Tips to Start Healing:

  • Sitting with the best possible posture: (Pull your belly button in towards your spine. Keep breathing while doing this. Pull your shoulder blades onto your back. Keep breathing!)
  • Kegels/pelvic floor exercises (contracting the pelvic floor muscles-the ones you use to stop your pee, if that makes sense!).
  • Standing on one foot while brushing your teeth while pulling your belly button in towards your spine.
  • Stretching before you get out of bed.
  • Taking a walk or parking further from the store.
  • You can climb your stairs.
  • Swim.
  • Dance.
  • Work out with a DVD program or take a class.
  • If pregnant, getting an abdominal/belly support band to help support your abdomen and relieve pain you may be experiencing.
  • If in post partum recovery, gently binding your belly to help pull the muscles together and support you in those first few weeks of initial birth recovery.

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Where am I now? I’m down to a one finger split at my belly button. I am confidently back to work full time with no restrictions. I’m still doing pelvic floor exercises and modifying my workouts to protect and strengthen my abdominal muscles so I don’t re-injure or reinforce the Diastasis Recti. I’m teaching my daughters that exercise and eating well are ways to treat your body with respect, to give it what it needs so when you need your body to work for you, it will. I’m teaching them that strong is beautiful, that healthy allows you to follow your dreams, that food is a tool and a pleasure and size is just another physical trait that varies from person to person.

Final thought… can we all agree to stop using the words “mummy tummy” ? Please? Your tummy is awesome, mommy. Growing a human is beautiful. A body that shows the results of growing a human is also beautiful!

For more information on Diastasis Recti click here.

*You are strong, and Chunkabuns knows it. Check out their “Mom Strong” Tee-shirts (and matching “Strong Like Mommy” shirts for baby! ♥♥♥) and other clothing options for mom and baby at www.chunkabuns.com

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nicole nexon image
Nicole Nexon is a mother of two, working full time as a physical therapist. Nicole has her master’s degree in Physical Therapy, and has been working for 9 years in both the inpatient and outpatient fields of physical therapy. She is a complete nerd when it comes to the human body and wants to encourage others to take the opportunity to treat their bodies well at whatever stage of life they are in. She is also a Beachbody coach and has found it to be a great platform to spread her mission of health and wellness. In her spare time, Nicole enjoys traveling and snowboarding. You can follow her at www.facebook.com/nicolerosenex )
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2016 Infant Feeding Guide with Product Reviews + Giveaway

by The Leaky Boob Community

The CDC says that the number one reason for women who intend to breastfeed but don’t end up reaching their breastfeeding goals is lack of support. Support goes a long way in making a difference in our feeding journeys. From familial, social, medical, and employment structures, there are many ways we can find and experience support. With story sharing, information sharing, and resource sharing, The Leaky Boob is dedicated to making support for the infant feeding journey easier to find. It may be breastfeeding that brings us all together but through support and finding community we stick around for the connection and rally behind the boob, bottle, formula, and solids. Our infant feeding guide pulls together information, resources, product reviews, and tips from our community to offer that support we’re committed to.

Not much is really needed for feeding a baby in those early days, provided everything goes smoothly. But since it doesn’t always go smoothly, sometimes we need some products to support the journey. Plus, even when it does go smoothly, there are some things that help make it easier and more fun.

After flipping through our guide, be sure to enter to win every product featured in our guide this year!

And we’re giving it ALL away! Every single item included in our 31 page guide is being given away. Divided into 2 separate bundles, we’re excited to be able to give 2 different Leakies each one of these bundles from our guide. Use the widget below to enter and tell us which bundle you’d want to win in the comments.
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Good luck and a huge thanks to all the brands that wanted to make this possible!

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Where Are The Rainbow Farting Unicorns? When Pregnancy and Postpartum Suck. 

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Hello Leakies,

Jeremy from Beyond Moi here, the man-behind-TLB, aka: The Piano Man, or the X-Factor (just kidding, but I’m referring to the fact that we only have girls). Every once and a while I get to write the editorial for our newsletter, where round up noteworthy articles and conversations from the previous week, and we share information on a particular topic. Today, we are zooming in on a tough one: Mental Health, and I am thrilled that we are, as it is so important. (And a special, more in-depth look at how botanicals can help, here.)

As a culture, we spend a whole lot of time making sure that all the physical pieces of our life look presentable to the world. From our homes, our kitchens, our yard, our cars, to our kids, and our own bodies, we want the world to know that we’ve got this. We’re on top of things. We’re not overwhelmed, we are on a surfboard ripping through everything life has to throw at us, and it’s a thrill. We’re having the time of our lives. Our Instagram and Facebook feeds are full of our grand adventure. And even when we let reality encroach on our carefully curated virtual lives, it is done in a calculated way. We know that there is nothing quite as fake as perfection, so a few flaws help to really make our masterpiece shine.

What is it that many of us have to hide?

*This is an excerpt from our TLB email, to continue reading, click here.


Jeremy Martin-Weber
Writer, speaker, father of 6 girls
BeyondMoi.com

 

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Does Nourishing our babies have to be THIS hard?! Food drama and Allergies- there’s a difference.

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This email is generously sponsored by our friends at

Mommy Moosli logo

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What do you do when feeding your baby makes them sick? When the very thing that they need to survive is hurting them, maybe even killing them?

Food sensitivities can be a huge challenge. Food allergies can be deadly. All of it can directly undermine a parent’s confidence, not to mention make every day life scary.

There are no easy answers but there are people who’ve been there.

Leaky, RN, and TLBC Facebook group admin Heather Mackles, shares her journey with us and some info on what parents need to be aware of as possible signs of allergies.

Read more here of her journey and information and support for others.

*This is an excerpt from our TLB email, to continue reading, click here.

And don’t miss out on the amazing giveaway featuring Mommy Moosli, Wean Green, 5 Phases bottles, Evenflo Feeding, Innobaby, and Belibea Bra all supporting you to be fully nourished.

Jessica Martin-Weber
Founder, TheLeakyBoob.com

 

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Pregnancy Sonograms: What You Will Learn- Part 2

by Elizabeth MacDonald
This post made possible by the generous support of My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear
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This article originally published on mybabysheartbeatbear.com on November 10, 2015.

 

In the article “Pregnancy Sonograms and What You Will Learn, Part 1” we talked about the different kinds of ultrasounds and their purpose, ending with more detail about the general anatomy scan common around 20 weeks of pregnancy. In this article, we’re taking a deeper look at the types of scans done prenatally and the reasons why your healthcare provider may recommend them as a diagnostic tool. These scans can provide valuable information on the health of your baby when necessary.

MBHBB- Preg. sonograms, June 2016

Your doctor or midwife may recommend one or more of the following sonograms throughout your pregnancy, for various reasons. You may not know when you conceived or may have suffered previous miscarriages. You may be over the age of 35 and your doctor requires extra screening. There may be genetic reasons for extra scans, or a low lying placenta that could threaten a vaginal delivery. Your little fetus may stubbornly decide to lay transverse and a late sonogram is needed to see position. There are numerous reasons to receive sonograms other than the 20 week anatomy scan.

  • Dating Scan: A dating scan is an ultrasound examination which is performed in order to establish the gestational age of the pregnancy. If you or your doctor/midwife is unsure of the date of your last menstrual cycle, if you have had an bleeding, are unsure of when you conceived or your estimated due date, you will receive a dating sonogram. This ultrasound will show you exactly how far along you are, and can see the start of a pregnancy as early as 4 weeks and 3 days along (but some pregnancy cannot be seen until 5 weeks). You will see the beginnings of a gestational sac, but no heartbeat or further fetal development yet at this stage. An embryo and fetal heartbeat can be detected as early as 6 weeks and 3 days, but may not be picked up until further along. You will also know the location of your pregnancy. If there is a chance that it is ectopic, you will find out now. At this stage of pregnancy, the dating scan will be done transvaginally, meaning the ultrasound wand will be inserted into the vagina to see the pregnancy. A dating scan can determine the number of gestational sacs present (which may decrease by the end of the 1st trimester, if there is more than one). Your cervix, uterus position, and ovaries will also be seen, and you will learn if there is any visible clotting or fibroids. A sonogram done before 9 weeks will be the most accurate to use for dating the pregnancy.
  • Breakdown of what can be seen:
    • At 5 ½ weeks gestation tiny sac can be seen in the uterus, but the baby and its heart beat may not be detected yet. 5 ½ weeks gestation means 5 ½ weeks from the first day of the last menstrual period, which is usually about 3 ½ weeks from the date of conception (confusing, isn’t it!).
    • By 6 to 7 weeks gestation the fetus is clearly seen on trans-vaginal ultrasound and the heart beat can be seen at this early stage (90 to 110 beats per minute under 6 to 7 weeks, then 110 to 200 beats per minute as the baby matures).
    • By 8 weeks gestationthe baby and its heart beat can be detected relatively easily with trans-abdominal and trans-vaginal examination.
    • This is presuming that the pregnancy is actually at this stage of development.
    • Sometimes a trans-vaginal examination shows that your pregnancy is less advanced than expected.
  • 1st Trimester Scan (Also known as a NT Scan): Having a transabdominal sonogram between 12-13 weeks is performed to confirm your baby’s heartbeat and conclude first trimester screening for chromosomal abnormalities. The screening is optional for one or all of the following: Down’s syndrome, Edward’s syndrome, and Patau’s syndrome. Down’s syndrome is also called Trisomy 21 or T21. Edwards’ syndrome is also called Trisomy 18 or T18, and Patau’s syndrome is also called Trisomy 13 or T13. The screening test offered at 11-14 weeks is called the combined test. It involves a blood test and an ultrasound scan. If a screening test shows that you have a higher risk of having a baby with Down’s, Edwards’ or Patau’s syndromes, you will be offered diagnostic tests to find out for certain if your baby has the condition. In addition to screening for these abnormalities, a portion of the test (known as the nuchal translucency) can assist in identifying other significant fetal abnormalities, such as cardiac disorders. The screening test does not detect neural tube defects. The combined accuracy rate for the screen to detect the chromosomal abnormalities mentioned above is approximately 85% with a false positive rate of 5%. A positive test means you have a 1/100 to 1/300 chance of experiencing one of the abnormalities.
  • Level II ScanWhile technically the anatomy scan is a Level II scan, there are other reasons to come in for a Level II sonogram. During your anatomy sonogram, you will learn if another Level II scan is needed. Level II scans are reserved for higher-risk mothers, but may be used to rule you out of the high-risk category. Common indications for a Level 2 ultrasound include family history of birth defects, maternal medical problems associated with birth defects (poorly controlled diabetes, for example), exposure to medications associated with birth defects, a maternal age of 35 or older, abnormal serum screening results, and birth defects suspected on a Level 1 ultrasound. While there is no ultrasound that can detect 100 percent of serious birth defects, most birth defects that are undetected with a Level 2 ultrasound usually are clinically less significant (such as a small hole in the heart which commonly closes on its own after birth or an isolated cleft palate with intact upper lip which can be fixed surgically after birth without any long-term complications). A survey of your baby’s internal organs will be conducted, as well as:
    • The umbilical cord
    • Amniotic fluid
    • Location of the placenta
    • Fetal heart rate

The total score will help decide the overall health and well-being of your baby and help your doctor or midwife determine if your baby should be delivered sooner than planned.

  • Bpp Scan (Biophysical Profile)This sonogram combines an ultrasound evaluation with a non-stress test (NST) and is intended to determine fetal health during the third trimester. This test is performed if there is a question about fetal health and well-being resulting from either an earlier examination, maternal/fetal symptoms, or if the pregnancy is considered high risk. There are two parts to the BPP, a Non-stress Test (NST) and an ultrasound evaluation. The NST involves attaching one belt to the mother’s abdomen to measure fetal heart rate, and another belt to measure contractions. Movement, heart rate and “reactivity” of heart rate to movement are measured for 20-30 minutes. The ultrasound portion may take up to an hour, and the technician will watch for a variety of signs that are important in measuring the health of your baby. Usually, five specific fetal attributes are studied and “scored” during the BPP:

Biophysical Attribute- MBHBB 06.16

  • NST Scan: The Fetal Non-Stress Test is a simple, non-invasive test performed in pregnancies over 28 weeks gestation. As mentioned above, The NST involves attaching a belt to the mother’s abdomen to measure fetal heart rate, and another belt to measure contractions. Movement, heart rate and “reactivity” of heart rate to movement are measured for 20-30 minutes. A NST may be performed if:
    • You sense the baby is not moving as frequently as usual
    • You are overdue
    • There is any reason to suspect the placenta is not functioning adequately
    • You are high risk for any other reason

The test can indicate if the baby is not receiving enough oxygen because of placental or umbilical cord problems; it can also indicate other types of fetal distressThe primary goal of the test is to measure the heart rate of the fetus in response to its own movements. Healthy babies will respond with an increased heart rate during times of movement, and the heart rate will decrease at rest. The concept behind a non-stress test is that adequate oxygen is required for fetal activity and heart rate to be within normal ranges. When oxygen levels are low, the fetus may not respond normally. Low oxygen levels can often be caused by problems with the placenta or umbilical cord.

Many pregnancies progress just fine without ever having an ultrasound and health care providers use a wide array of skills and tests to ensure the safety and health of both the mother and the baby through pregnancy and birth. Having any of these scans done isn’t immediately an indication of a problem, it is just an opportunity to check. It is a gift to hear your baby’s heartbeat and see them developing, one to treasure. While it can be exciting to hear your baby’s heartbeat and to see them on the screen, the purpose of ultrasounds is to be an important tool in your prenatal care, not an entertainment experience. They may provide some answers to questions and concerns, reveal a potential problem or that everything is developing normally, and provide reassurance. Be sure you are using a reputable ultrasound technician to perform your scans, your healthcare provider should refer you to one they trust and use regularly if it is out of office. If you feel that a scan is unnecessary and are unsure you want to go through with it, be sure to speak with your healthcare provider about your concerns to better understand the purpose of the scan. If at any point there is something you don’t understand, speak up and let your healthcare provider know you have questions.

____________________

me
Elizabeth is mom to four breathtakingly-beautiful children, and wife to one lucky man. She is a research writer, blogger, and a ghost writer of books.  As a natural-minded woman, Elizabeth takes pride in spreading factual information that may benefit other mothers and future generations.  She has spent the last seven years (and counting) growing babies in the womb and/or with breastmilk.  When she is not writing, she enjoys drinking wine, running, cooking, reading, homeschooling, and loving her family and friends.
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Cut the controversy, Fed IS Best!

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Dear Leakies, 

The number one rule in breastfeeding support is feed the baby.

Always.

Sure, how we feed them is important but nothing is as important as feeding the baby. With #TLBnourish we’re focusing on how we’re doing that together recognizing that pressure of how to do so can make that more difficult. Instead, we’re exploring the diversity of what nourishing really looks like.

From breast and bottle to introducing solids to the 21 meals a week (plus snacks), there is so much more involved than simply nutrition.

*This is an excerpt from our TLB email, to continue reading, click here.

And don’t miss out on the amazing giveaway featuring Mommy Moosli, Wean Green, 5 Phases bottles, Evenflo Feeding, Innobaby, and Belibea Bra all supporting you to be fully nourished.

Jessica Martin-Weber
Founder, TheLeakyBoob.com

 

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