It’s 17 weeks… do you know where my breasts are?

It was shocking.  Looking at those pictures of me in the purple dress from last week and thinking “something’s not quite right“…  then realizing what it was: my breasts are suddenly around my waist!  Yikes!!

As a former dancer / swimmer / marathon runner, I am accustomed to a lifetime of being the proud owner of a smaller chest.  I have spent the greater part of my post-pubescent life being supported by tank tops with built-in shelf bras, light to moderate support sports-designs and the occasional sexy-time offering, complete with underwire and a whole lot of padding.

Now,  I may not be able to forecast the weather with my mammaries; however, they’ve definitely been a strong indicator of what’s going on throughout the last four months.  One of the earliest indicators of our pregnancy was my husband saying “Yep – your boobs are bigger” – and that was before we even took a pregnancy test!

Yes, they’re bigger, and they’re sensitive, and they are uncomfortable, and they are new.  I spent almost the entire first trimester in a pre-pregnancy lululemon flow-y bra, which was comfortable, wire free, and stretchy.  But then I saw those pictures, and realized that there was pretty much zero distinction between the area of my breasts, and my stomach.  I just looked egg-shaped.  I’ve watched Stacy and Clinton for enough years to know that zero waist definition inevitably means that it’s time for a new bra.

So, at one lunch hour last week, I trudged over to a local department store.  I collected an armful of bras-  My last bra fitting (about 6 months ago) I’d measured a 32D, so I collected an assortment of 32DD. 34 and 36C in all shape, colour and wire/wireless options and made my way into the fitting room.  Knowing that i’m not a bra expert (and checking out the price tag for these tiny bits of lace and cotton), I gingerly poked my head out of the fitting room, seeking a second opinion.  I explained that I was pregnant, was appropriately clucked and cooed at, and then sternly told that I was in the wrong size.  “great“, I enthusiastically replied, “that’s why I’m here – help me!” and assumed the appropriate position for a measuring tape to be whipped out.

I was a little surprised when the salesperson simply asked “what size are you wearing now?”, but I assumed she was such an expert that she could make a good recommendation on sight alone.

Then she came back – with 34Cs, 36Ds, 38Bs…  “38?  Really?“, I questioned with a mixture of caution and suspicion, she explained a complicated mathematical formula, where 38B = 34D, and that I should keep my options open.  I began to question the expertise of the bra-expert, and left the store empty handed.

I decided to search for some online advice.  Apparently, during early pregnancy, one of the first changes to take place is when the rib cage itself expands by about two inches (!) to accommodate all the shifting around going on inside.  The breasts themselves then grow on average of 1-2 cup sizes throughout the nine months in preparation for baby – incredible!

Looking here for advice about taking some measurements, I see that one is taken under the bust, one at the fullest point.  This leads to more confusion on my part.  My “fullest part” can vary quite dramatically; with bra? without bra? is it better to measure at the end of the day (like when I buy shoes).  How can I possibly have come this far in life, having absolutely no clue how to measure myself? I decided to try them all (in the name of scientific research, of course.  My husband was in full support (no pun intended) of this venture).

The band measurement was easy: 32ish.  Add 2 inches, band size is 34.  Easy.  Measuring the “fullest part” – with one bra showed closer to a 38, with no bra showed 37ish, with my Victoria Secret showed a 39 (yowza).  Meaning, I could be a C, D or DD.  “Comfortable bra” is the online-advice, which I gather means “not the super-cleavage / push up number”.  So 38 inches, it is.  I am actually a 34D – hurray!

According to seraphine.co, most women will transition into a nursing bra by about 26 weeks; however, dramatic changes in body shape and size can take place long before that.  As soon as pre-pregnancy bras become uncomfortable, don’t seem to be doing the trick (ie: your waist disappears!) it’s time for a re-fit.  One of the great things about a maternity/nursing bra is that it offers several hook and eye closures (as opposed to the standard 3), and is made from extremely stretchy material, allowing for generous growth over the next 23 weeks.  It also has a sneaky-hidden nursing flap, allowing this bra to live on well beyond pregnancy –

for $47, it’s priced comparably to a standard bra (I actually had soft-cup, specialty bras in the fitting room that were up to $75!).

Yes, i’m wearing it today, yes, it feels amazing, and yes, I can see the difference between my bust and my tummy.  Overall, it’s a good day.

So – to recap:

1. take a measurement under bust.  Add 2 inches (for even numbers – 3 inches for odd) that’s your band size

2. wearing a comfortable bra, measure the fullest part.  If it’s 1 inch larger than your band size, you’re an A-cup, 2 inches = B, etc. etc. etc.

And speaking of making sure your bosoms look their best, stand up straight girls!  Read some great tips for posture (which will also help with strength and comfort throughout pregnancy and beyond) here.  Also, when dressing, any sort of definition under the bust – knots, wraps, gathers, or even just adding a wide belt will do wonders.

In other 17 week news…

its been a splurgeworthy week.  Ken and I attended the Family Life Weekend to Remember in Victoria, BC – which was awesome: Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday morning, completely focusing on each other, our marriage and impending parenthood.  It was incredible.  We stayed at the Fairmont Empress, were able to spend some time just wandering around Victoria (sharing some luscious desserts) – and there was a bookstore at the conference!  We both have a love of books, so we stocked up.  This week I also made a switch from regular foundation to the Bare Minerals (via recommendation of some of my fellow followers of thebump.com…  I picked up a kate spade case for my macbook (well – I needed something to transport it to Victoria in, didn’t I??) and had a huge splurge at www.seraphine.co (impossible not to after the feedback regarding the dress last week, and the way this bra feels.) I can’t wait to receive it!! I’m determined to look as human (and cute!) as I can over the next four and a half months, and for our nursing time beyond that…  I will definitely be sharing all the outfits, fun, and everything else that happens for this pregnancy (and beyond!) right here.

17 week stats:

boy or girl:  Hope to find out at the detailed ultrasound on March 9!

weight: sitting at 158 (+10lbs overall).  I should mention here: I’m five foot 11.5.

nausea update: still throwing-up as of 2 days ago.  *sigh*.

overall health update: things are staeady…  still minor spotting, no more mega-blood.

fatigue update: more good days than bad.  I’m still pretty zonked by the end of the day.

cravings/aversions: I think i’m going through my first legitimate craving stage: Granny Smith Apples – I could literally eat them all day.  I still can’t be anywhere near coffee, hummus, indian food…  Also still having a tough time with regular ol’ water.

Coming up next week:  addressing the issue of my roots.  Not the british ones – the dark ones…  Hair care during pregnancy – what’s a girl to do??

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18 thoughts on “It’s 17 weeks… do you know where my breasts are?

  1. Hey Jen, has anyone given you the vitamin advice for the nausea/throwing up? I was told by a good friend of mine that if you take your prenatal vitamins after dinner it will help with the nausea in the AM. It worked wonders for me during my first 4.5 months of pregnancy 🙂

    • Hi Charity!
      I actually had to go completely off prenatals at about 11 weeks, and just switched to plain folic acid. If I can go a few days in a row without throwing up, i’ll definitely try them after dinner as you suggest – thanks!

  2. Well, Jen I am thrilled for you both. What an exciting time for you. I had forgotten about many of the clothing trials and tribulations while pregnant. I myself dreaded shopping as there are no tall maternity stores- although tall girl came out with a small line that was not very impressive AFTER I had Charlotte. I did get jeans from Tall Girl though. I had a jumper and cheated on tops by just wearing mine under the jumper but only buttoned down to the bump. I have to say, I had no morning sickness whatsoever. However, the first trimester I could not stand anything tight around my waist and was ever so glad to wear things with an elastic. You should investigate going to a chiropractor that has trained in the Webster technique. Getting adjusted will mean that everything is in alignment and that baby will just slip right out. Also, labour is much shorter for women under chiropractic care than women not under chiro care. It is safe too. Then you should get the baby adjusted too- Charlotte has been adjusted since she was 4 days old as delivery is rough on babies and now she is rarely sick etc.

    • Thanks Kathy 🙂 I did take a quick look at the Tall Girl here in Vancouver, but I think all they had was a bathing suit? It is a super-tiny maternity line, indeed! I’ll look more into the chiro idea – i’ve never been to one. And I’m a bit jealous that you were never sick! I still threw up this morning – wahh!

  3. I loved your post! I had/have the same experience with my breasts. I was a 32A before getting pregnant. I am an avid cyclist and occasionally run and hike, so as you noted, breasts were nonexistent. 🙂 I went to the store a week ago to shop for a new bra and I found out that I am now a 36B. Yikes!! I guess I was more surprised about the 36 part. I tend not to wear padded and underwired bras, so I can still (miraculously) fit in some of my bras. But I am sure that will change soon! The bra that you purchased looks cute. I’ll have to check out the store. You look great too! XO!

    • thanks!! What changes, eh? It seems like such a little thing, but I love how adjustable the maternity bras are, while still actually being pretty and even delicate looking. Honestly, why not just make All bras like that to accommodate our little ups and downs?? Congrats on your pregnancy and keep in touch.xo

  4. I feel your pain! I was a 32D when I got pregnant and I’m a 36E now. My midwife told me to expect to be a 32DD while I was nursing after my ribs went back down, about eight weeks after birth.

    When I first went up a band size, I exclaimed, “How is that possible, I haven’t gaines any weight yet!?” Blow my mind that my rib cage expanded like that. On a related note since you are the same size as me prepregnancy, its just as hard to find bras in 36E as it is to find 32D. Frustrating.

    • ya – trhe 32D just seems to mess people up, doesn’t it? And the rib expansion is just plain weird!! I’m thinking, “How am I not feeling these things as they are happening???” 36E, eh?? Are you wearing maternity/nursing specific bras?

      • I’ve just been wearing a cheap cotton one I got from victoria secret when they did their semi annual sale. I have a generic sports bra for when I’m in labor, but I’m terrified to buy a nursing bra. I keep hearing that I’ll go up two more cup sizes, or that I will lose a band size immediately, and I don’t know. I have one nursing “sleep” bra that fits now but probably won’t then. I’m just kinda hoping I have the energy to stop at Motherhood Maternity after I get home. I do have a few nursing tank tops with built in shelf bra (not that they’ll support enough, but better than nothing!)

      • it’s so funny… I was actually suprised at how reasonably priced the matenity/nursing bras are! (not really any more expensive than a regular “nice” bra) i’d seen much more expensive nursing bras in specialty boutiques, so it was nice to get the seraphine one fur under $50. With having so much flexibiltiy to adjust the band and the straps, I feel really confident that i’ll get my money’s worth during their lifespan. I’d been wearing sportsbras as well, but i really started to find that (althoug super comfortable!) they weren’t giving me the shape under clothing that I was looking for. I haven’t tried a “sleep” bra yet – maybe that should be one of my next experiements?

  5. Don’t be surprised if you boobs grow some more! I have gone up almost 5 sizes during this pregnancy. Yes, that is unusual but be prepared for further changes of at least another cup size or two!! Luckily, the tenderness will subside in your second trimester.

  6. Hi! I see we have a lot in common (other than what you commented about on my blog!) – including small breasts, British roots, and, most importantly, the date of our anatomical ultrasounds!! I can’t wait to find out my baby’s gender and will check your blog then too to see if you’ve found out. Unlike you, I’ve always wanted bigger boobs (I’m a roughly a 34B), and now I finally have them! At 17 weeks, my boobs are pretty much how I’ve always dreamed them to be in a perfect world. They’re not MUCH bigger (just a cup size), and they’re still very perky. I’m sure this isn’t going to last, though – once I’m done nursing they will probably look like empty envelopes. Sigh. For what it’s worth, I would hardly say your boobs look like they are around your waist in that picture…

    • lol – sounds like you should consider seeking out the services of a “boudoir photographer” to preserve the magical memories of this curvacious time! I don’t even want to think about after yet! I was looking at someone who had twins, and the lazer work they had done on stretchmarks *shiver*. Right now i’m slathering myself up in whatever lotions and potions I can find on a daily basis!

  7. Hey Jen! This is really great style advice – definitely something that all women need a little help with, pregnant or not, is getting bras that fit properly & support well! I really enjoyed this article, it’s brilliantly written & definitely something that I’d love to see more of – pregnancy style advice is very thin on the ground, even though it’s advice that millions of women would be grateful for!! 🙂

    Also, so glad that everything is going well with the pregnancy (apart from the nausea of course!) & can’t wait to find out if our “angle of the dangle” theory is right & you’re having a girl! March 9th will be a joyous occasion either way 🙂 You look fab by the way, & your bump is so gorgeous & neat!

    Love the Kate Spade Macbook case! You’re right, that was definitely a necessity rather than a luxury!! 😉 xoxo

  8. Pingback: 28 weeks later… « ruffelles

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