1. Congratulations and I am so happy to have you here!

    Good for you that you are taking the initiative to take care of your body and your health. The answer to your question about whether or not you should be examining your breasts, even though you are pregnant is yes, yes, yes. It is also very important to feel comfortable enough with your practitioner to ask all your questions, understand your care and have your questions answered. You may want to see if your clinic has a nurse practitioner that you may feel more comfortable talking with.

    When you are not pregnant, the best time to perform a self-breast exam is after your period is over when your breasts are less likely to be tender or lumpy. During pregnancy, you can simply choose a day of the month as your “breast check day”. It is rare but possible to develop breast cancer and/or for the hormones of pregnancy to accelerate cancer during pregnancy. Therefore, it is very important to continue with your breast health activities throughout your entire pregnancy.

    There is no special or magic way to examine your breasts. The important thing is to get a good sense of what your own body feels like. Then you will know if something feels different or has visually changed. Many women examine their breasts while standing in the shower, although you could also sit or lie down.

    You should first look at your breast in a mirror, both with your hands at your side and then behind your head. Look for any dimples or abnormalities in shape. Next, you will want to feel your breasts in either a circular motion or in an up and down motion for any lumps. Squeeze the nipples of each breast slightly to check for any discharge. Once you do this a couple of times, you will feel more familiar with your own breasts. Be sure to let your doctor know of any lump or suspicious area that you find. It may be perfectly normal but is best to have checked out.

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Ask Tori!

Ask Tori RN®, by registered nurse and resident author of The Joy of Pregnancy, is a helpful and reassuring resource for parents-to-be.