Keep up the healthy habits! Here's why monthly self-exams are important for expecting and nursing moms.

During pregnancy and lactation, your breasts feel tender and swollen-and you might put off checking for lumps. "Many pregnant women assume that because they see their doctor so often for prenatal visits, there's no need to do monthly self-exams," says breast-cancer expert Susan Love, M.D., of, a women's-health Website. "But your ob-gyn usually won't be checking for lumps. That's up to you." You're not immune to breast cancer during pregnancy or while nursing, though cases are rare. But hormonal changes to your breasts may make it hard to know what to look for. "A distinct lump that feels different from the rest of your breast tissue and lasts for more than a week should be checked out," says Dr. Love. A blocked milk duct, on the other hand, feels like a firm wedge and tends to go away after a massage or a hot shower.

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Copyright © 2000 Betty S. Wong. Reprinted with permission from the October 2000 issue of Parents magazine.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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