Ways Breasts Change During Pregnancy

Ways Breasts Change During PregnancyWhen you’re expecting your breasts change along with so many other parts of your body. The changes may not always be comfortable, but they are all for a good cause: to prepare for breastfeeding. During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we’re focused on early detection and educating ourselves on what is normal for our breasts and our bodies. Today we’re looking at the typical ways breasts change during pregnancy so you are informed about what lies ahead.

Some of the ways breasts change during pregnancy are also signs or symptoms of breast cancer, such as discharge, lumps and bumps. However, during pregnancy, these otherwise concerning alterations are par for the course. If you are worried about a change that seems abnormal, consult your physician. Also, breast cancer is most common in women over 35 so if you are considering conception after that age, it’s wise to talk to your doctor about getting a clinical breast exam to be sure you are healthy going into pregnancy.

Breast Size

The hormone called HCG gears up as soon as you conceive. This hormone is what triggers a positive outcome on pregnancy tests and it also can increase your breast size almost immediately. Some women feel their pregnancy in their breasts first, thanks to HCG. Also, fat deposits build up in the breasts as milk glands enlarge. This contributes to larger breast too. According to March of Dimes women typically gain 2 pounds in their breasts throughout pregnancy. But don’t be concerned if your breasts don’t grow much during pregnancy or even after giving birth. Breastfeeding is possible regardless of breast size.

Breast Tenderness

The hormones swirling around your body that are making it a comfortable place for your baby to grow and thrive may have quite the opposite effect on you. Hormones are responsible for much of the discomfort women experience during pregnancy including nausea, heartburn, skin irritations and breast tenderness. Especially towards the beginning and end of pregnancy, your breasts may be very sore, swollen and sensitive to the point that any pressure may be unpleasant. As your milk ducts grow blood is populating in your breasts, which often causes this tenderness.

Nipples

Many moms-to-be are surprised to find that the area around the nipple called the areola expands throughout pregnancy and may become darker as well. You can thank estrogen for this hyperpigmentation. Small bumps may appear on your nipples known as Montgomery tubercles. These glands produce natural cleansing oils in preparation for breastfeeding. The bumps on your nipples themselves may be more pronounced as you get closer to delivery. Milk comes from many holes on the nipple, not just one centralized source.

Breast Appearance

In addition to appearing larger, you may notice a few other changes to the look of your breasts. Blue veins may be more noticeable now due to the increased blood flow in this area. Also, if your breasts have grown significantly, you may have stretch marks as well.

Milk Production

All the hormones and growth of milk ducts have been working hard to get ready for breastfeeding. Many expectant moms are able to produce early breast milk filled with protein and antibodies to protect your baby, known as colostrum, as early as their second trimester. Towards the end of pregnancy it may leak or squirt from the nipple. Additionally, milk ducts can become plugged even before you give birth. A plugged duct usually feels like a hard knot in the breast and can get swollen, red, tender and hot if left unaddressed. Warm compresses, hot bathes and massaging the area can help relieve the clog before it becomes infected.

Nursing Bras

All of these ways breasts change during pregnancy are part of your entry into motherhood. To keep your breasts comfortable and supported, purchase new bras as soon as your old ones aren’t working for you. Maternity bras that transition into nursing bras are the best choice so you’re prepared for breastfeeding as soon as your little one arrives. Soft, stretchy, breathable materials are best during pregnancy and in the early nursing stage as your breasts may continue to fluctuate in size. You may be most comfortable sleeping in bras too, so look for sleep and leisure nursing bras or opt for maternity-to-nursing tank tops.

Sources: BabyCenter, Fit Pregnancy and Parents.com