Carrying a baby can do strange things to your body, from making your nose bigger to giving you swollen ankles. Australian model and Instagram influencer, Belle Lucia, has just shared the reality of another side effect.
The 24-year-old posted a bikini photo showing her baby bump as well as the veins on her chest, which she attributed to her pregnancy. “I know I got a veiny chest," the half German half Portuguese model wrote.
"Happens because your blood volume increases by 50 percent when pregnant and they go away after pregnancy when your blood volume returns."
Lactation expert and author Pinky McKay told 10 daily that veins appearing more prominently on the breasts is a fairly common pregnancy side effect.
"Veins are always present in the breasts, the increased blood volume during pregnancy – from 20 percent to 40 pe cent to nourish your baby - simply makes your veins more visible," she said.
"Generally the veins will become less prominent but they may still be visible in the early days, especially if there is some breast engorgement or swelling as your milk is coming in."
McKay said this appearance can continue if you are breastfeeding, especially in the early days or when the breasts are full.
"It will gradually settle as your milk supply becomes attuned to your baby’s needs. By feeding according to your baby’s hunger cues, your milk supply will regulate to your baby and your breasts will feel comfortable," she told 10 daily.
McKay added it's a good sign of pregnancy health and nothing to be overly concerned about.
"Increased breast development during pregnancy is a healthy sign that your breasts are preparing for breastfeeding and a good milk supply."
Belle, who is due to give birth in two months, was praised by her Instagram following of 1.4 million for not hiding the pregnancy side effect.
"Be yourself, be you, be real! Don't conform to the perfect other model like pictures," wrote one commenter.
"Thank you for not photoshopping!!! Your pregnancy is beautiful and so are the side effects," added another.
Many pregnant woman also added they had a similar experience during their own pregnancies.
"Yes the veins, how can I forget? While I was pregnant my husband said I was a 'she hulk'. You look so beautiful Belle," said a commenter.
"Also got one week to go! Blows my mind all the crazy things my body is doing to prepare for this new life," added another.
Belle has been honest about her pregnancy journey before, explaining she has received a number of comments over the size of her baby bump.
“As you can see, women show very differently but are all carrying a little life,” she said in a story she shared to Instagram.
“Just because I’m not showing as much as you like doesn’t mean my pregnancy is ‘unhealthy’ or that I’m promoting a ‘skinny’ pregnancy."
Belle added that all pregnancies are different and as a result, not all baby bumps will look the same.
“It’s just my body and I can’t help it if it doesn’t look the same as other women," she added.
“Body shaming is not okay no matter how ‘big’ or ‘small’ someone is.” In a video, Belle said she had gained 10 kilograms during her pregnancy but wouldn't share her weight when asked by a commenter.
“I don’t think it’s healthy to share weight — height, muscle mass, genetics, etc. will change weight significantly and I have lots of young girls following me who might think weight matters when it doesn’t,” she said.
“You should never compare how much you weigh to someone else. My pre-pregnancy weight was healthy and my pregnancy weight is healthy.”
Belle also shared the fears around her pregnancy early on and that she suffered from anxiety. "I did experience morning sickness and breast pain and definitely a lot of anxiety in the beginning because of the fear of miscarriage (I had no idea how common they were," she wrote on Instagram.
"But I’ve learnt to embrace everything -- the downs and ups! It’s the most incredible feeling I’ve experienced, I’ve never felt so much love towards anything and it’s not even entered the outside world yet.
"I’m so mushy now I’m pregnant. I literally cry with happiness over this little person inside."
Featured image: www.instagram.com/belle_lucia/