Darkening of the nipples during pregnancy

Pregnancy tends to alter your body in many ways, and one such change is the darkening of the nipples.

You may be shocked after looking at your rapidly changing physical appearance.

Most of the changes that you face are pretty common, and none of them are unusual during pregnancy. You need not worry about the bodily changes that you go through during pregnancy. The darker nipples will eventually lighten after giving birth.

Causes for darker nipples:

During pregnancy, the two primary hormones progesterone and estrogen, are secreted abundantly. These hormones will prepare your breasts for secreting milk. Your breasts will increase in size as the milk duct grows. Due to these hormonal actions, your nipples might become hyper-pigmented.

Moreover, the overall hormonal changes are predominantly high during pregnancy. This causes increased secretion of melanin, which is responsible for darker shades of the skin. The melanin action will not only lead to hyper-pigmentation of the nipples, but it also causes dark patches on the face, neck, and forearms. Most often, these hyper-pigmented changes will fade away after a few weeks of delivery. However, under fewer rare cases, it may leave a permanent mark.

Darkening of the skin and the nipples does not require medical intervention during pregnancy. However, if the marks do not go away even after a year or so of delivery, you should seek medical advice. If you prefer breastfeeding the baby, the natural fading process will be pretty slow, which is absolutely fine. Just for the sake of hyperpigmentation, it is not advisable to avoid breastfeeding unless you have other health complaints that prevent you from breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is the healthiest and most natural way of feeding your baby.

Ways to prevent darkening of the nipples and skin:

Although you can’t prevent the darkening of the skin during pregnancy, there are ways to control its intensity. As melanin production is high during pregnancy, it is better to avoid sun exposure as much as possible. It is always better to get exposure in the early morning sun as it is the only source of vitamin D production. Especially during pregnancy, you need to have adequate exposure to vitamin D for the body. However, the harsh sun rays during the middle of the day are high in ultraviolet radiation, and thus harmful. It is also advised to keep yourself hydrated and protect your skin from further damage by using sunscreen and other ointments as prescribed by the doctor.

Conclusion:

The darkening of the nipples is a common factor during pregnancy. Do not worry about it, and embrace your bodily changes. 

Special thanks to Dr. Dimple Chudgar (M.D, D.N.B, F.C.P.S, D.G.O, Diploma in advance laparoscopic surgery (Germany), Fellowship in Robotic surgery (U.S.A) ) for the expert advice.

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