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9 Breast Changes During Pregnancy

Monday, February 15, 2021

When we think of pregnancy changes, we tend to think of the growing pregnant belly. Changes to your breasts may take you by surprise. In fact, this might be one of the earliest signs that you are pregnant.

After conception, the hormones estrogen and progesterone increase rapidly in your body. These hormones are preparing your body for breastfeeding. Here are 9 of the changes you may be experiencing.

Common breast changes during pregnancy:

  1. Tender swollen breasts

You may have tender swollen breasts before you have even had a positive pregnancy test!  Under the influence of estrogen and progesterone, more blood is flowing to your breasts; breast tissue is developing in preparation for breastfeeding. A stretchy sports bra may be more comfortable than your regular bra. Other women prefer bras made from cotton.

2. Prominent veins

As your blood volume increases to meet the needs of your growing baby, you may notice that the veins on your breasts become larger and bluish in color. This is normal. A pregnant woman’s blood supply is 1 ½ times her normal volume.

3. Nipples and areola (the colored area around your nipple) darken

Both the nipple and areola will become darker brown during pregnancy. This shaded area is thought to be like a target to help your baby find the breast after birth.

4. Increase in size

Most women’s breasts will increase at least one cup size during pregnancy. Breast tissue is developing in preparation for breastfeeding. You may need a larger band size as your chest expands to make room for baby. Consider getting a bra fitting to make sure you have the correct size for comfort.

5. Nipples grow in size and become more erect

These changes will make it easier for your newborn to latch.

6. Bumps on areola

You will develop bumps on your areola around the nipple. These bumps, called Montgomery’s Tubercles, are thought to excrete a substance that lubricates the areola and nipple. They also have a scent that is believed to help guide your newborn to your breast.

7. Itchy breasts

As the skin of your growing breasts stretches, it can be itchy. Applying a moisturizer and avoiding hot showers or baths may be helpful.

8. Stretch marks

As your breasts increase in size, stretch marks may appear. There is no proven way to prevent them but they will fade in time.

9. Leaking thick, yellow fluid

Your breasts begin to produce colostrum during pregnancy. Colostrum is the antibody-rich first milk your baby will receive. Some women will notice yellowish crusting on their nipples; others will leak colostrum and may need to use breast pads. Still, others will not leak at all. All three variations are normal.

Breast changes in pregnancy may catch you by surprise. These changes, however, are normal. Your body is preparing to nourish your new baby.

There are many ‘unknowns’ with a baby. Feel confident breastfeeding your newborn! Start learning now.

*Post updated July 31, 2019

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References:

  1. Bonyata, K., “When will my milk come in?” KellyMom.com. 15 Mar. 2016. https://kellymom.com/ages/newborn/when-will-my-milk-come-in/
  2. Health Link BC, “Breast Changes During Pregnancy.” HealthLinkBC.ca, 2017, https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-topics/aa87816
  3. La Leche League International, “Colostrum: General.”  LaLeche.org., 2019. https://www.llli.org/breastfeeding-info/colostrum-general/
  4. Whelan, C. “Pregnant: Breast Changes by Trimester Plus What to Expect Postpartum.” Healthline.com, Healthline Media, 2017, https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/pregnant-breast

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