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Prenatal and Postpartum Breast Care: What You Need to Know

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You know how you can go forever without hearing a song and then it comes on one day and the next and the next?

And then you have to wonder if it’s played all along and you’re just now noticing it?

This is how the past several days have been for me. But in a far more serious way.

Saturday morning, my 48-year-old cousin died from breast cancer (for her story, please visit me over at in these small moments).

I spoke with my aunt yesterday and she urged me to do a breast self exam and schedule a mammogram for as soon as possible.

So, last night, I did that thorough breast exam and found an area of tenderness. No lump, but certainly a tender spot.

I pushed it to the back of my mind, thinking that, given where I am in my cycle, breast tenderness can be normal.

This morning, I felt that area again and it was still tender to the touch.

Not even an hour later, I read a piece about postpartum breast cancer that surprised me.

These facts, in particular, grabbed my attention:

Breast cancer occurs in about one out of every 3,000 pregnant women. It is the most common cancer in pregnant women.

Factors related to pregnancy that may increase the risk of breast cancer are older age (after 30) at birth of first child, recent childbirth, and taking diethylstilbestrol during pregnancy.

Diagnosing breast cancer in women under 40 is more difficult because of their dense breast tissue. By the time a lump in a younger woman’s breast can be felt, the cancer often is advanced enough to lower chances of survival.

So, I called my doctor to schedule that mammogram.

I glanced at my calendar and saw that in a few weeks, I’d have some time.

Within moments, I was set up for an appointment with my doctor to examine the area, followed by an appointment for mammogram.

For this Friday.

This tenderness will most likely be nothing to worry about.

I will probably come back with stories about how amazed I was by just how flat my breasts could get.

But, I can’t take any chances.

If your doctor doesn’t do routine breast exams at your prenatal and postpartum appointments, be sure to ask for them.

To learn much more, please don’t miss: Postpartum Breast Cancer: I didn’t even know I was at risk.

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