Breast changes during pregnancy
Every woman knows that one of the first pregnancy symptoms is changes in breasts (changes of breast tissue, changes in breast size and changes in breast sensitivity). Breasts very early respond to very early stages of pregnancy. Very often the breast changes are considered as a first pregnancy signal.
During pregnancy a lot of changes you can discover in your body – women’s’ body goes through many remarkable changes including uterus grows several times its normal size, weight gain, skin changes and breasts’ change during whole pregnancy. Of all these changes women are often most intrigued by the changes that occur in their breasts during pregnancy.
Actually breasts’ changes are body preparation for baby arrival as newborn would need breastfeeding from the day one. Usually breasts go through a number of changes during pregnancy which include the following:
Breast changes during pregnancy
- Breast growth and enlargement;
- Breast tenderness and hypersensitivity;
- Darkening of breasts’ nipples and areolas (the skin around your nipples), due to hormones that affect pigmentation of the skin;
- Darkened veins along your breasts (due to increased blood supply to your breasts);
- Your breasts may start leaking a yellowish, thick substance known as “colostrums”;
- Nipples stick out more; the areolas and nipples will grow larger;
- Small glands on the surface of the areolas called Montgomery’s tubercles become raised bumps.
The main cause of all above mentioned breast changes could be explained by dramatic hormones changes during whole pregnancy.
Hormonal changes during pregnancy cause increased blood flow and changes in the breast tissue, which could make breasts feel swollen, sore, tingly, and unusually sensitive to touch. Some women describe the sensation as an exaggerated version of how their breasts feel before their period.
Breast tenderness is one of the earliest signs of pregnancy. It usually starts around 4 to 6 weeks of pregnancy and lasts through the first trimester.
Here are some of the more common changes in breasts during pregnancy:
Sore or tender Breasts
This is common as early as the first few weeks after conception. Early in the first trimester you may notice that your breasts are sore or tender. For some women this is also a sign of an impending period, so it may go unnoticed. Breast tenderness is also pretty common signal for early pregnancy and breast tenderness is actually considered as an early symptom of pregnancy. You may have a slight tenderness when you touch your breasts or you can have the severe pain whenever you wear a bra. Both variants are normal and are usually most intense in the first trimester. Most women will start noticing breast tenderness roughly four to six weeks into their pregnancy. Typically this sensation lasts throughout the first trimester of pregnancy.This is one of the reasons that sex in the first trimester is often avoided by some women.
Many women notice their nipples feel sore or tingly while others notice their breasts seem swollen or enlarged. Your nipples may become larger and darker as your pregnancy progresses. You may also notice small, goose bump or pimple like white areas on your areola. These are normal. They are called Montgomery’s tubercles.
While these are always present they become much more apparent during pregnancy.
Anywhere from six to eight weeks into your pregnancy you may also notice your nipples appear larger and the veins in your breasts appear more prominent. You may be able to see veins under the skin of your breasts, and you may find that your nipples are getting bigger and darker. After the first few months, your areolas — the pigmented circles around your nipples — will also be bigger and darker. This is common as the volume of blood circulating in the body increases throughout the pregnancy.
Breast changes during pregnancy
Many women’s breasts grow larger throughout their pregnancy. Some women will grow a cup size or more during pregnancy, especially with their first child. Towards the end of the first trimester or the beginning of the second trimester you may notice that your breasts begin to grow. This is again the tissues inside the breast preparing for nursing. It’s common to go up a cup size or two, especially if it’s your first baby. You may be disappointed to find your breasts do not change as much during subsequent pregnancies as they do during your first pregnancy.
Towards the end of pregnancy you will want to be fitted for a nursing bra to help accommodate the larger breasts.
Breast Itching and Breast Stretch Marks
Breast itching is a common side effect as your breasts grow and adapt, preparing to provide your newborn baby with milk after delivery. As breast size is growing, the skin is also stretching – your breasts may feel itchy as the skin stretches. Some women will also develop fine white stretch marks in their breasts. Usually a high quality moisturizer is enough to help reduce itching and reduce the appearance of stretch marks that occur in the breasts during pregnancy.
Some women’s breasts begin leaking colostrum or premilk late in the second or early in the third trimester. Colostrum is the first milk your body makes. It will provide your baby with everything he or she needs to start life, including a dose of immunities and protection from jaundice. Towards the end of pregnancy some women may find that their breasts leak this golden color fluid. Or you may notice that your nipples have a film or caked substance, this is all colostrum.
No Breast Changes
You may be one of the women who have only slight symptoms or no symptoms of breast changes in pregnancy. Don’t panic. It has nothing to do with your ability to have a successful pregnancy or breastfeeding relationship.
How support breasts during pregnancy
Here are some helpful suggestions you can do to make some of these changes more comfortable and easier to manage.
Breasts’ growth and enlargement could be something to look forward to, as you are excited about your breasts getting bigger. For women with large breasts there may be less enthusiasm. During pregnancy you will find your comfort greatly increased by wearing supportive bras during pregnancy. Under the wire bras tend to chafe a bit more and may contribute to clogged milk ducts. If you can look for a bra that doesn’t require wiring, or at least one version like this to sleep in. You will find that wearing a ‘sleep’ bra helps your breasts remain comfortable at night, when they tend to feel sore and uncomfortable. Many women prefer a sports style bra during and after pregnancy.
Some women find maternity bras the most comfortable during pregnancy. You’ll want to look for a supportive bra that will allow a little room for growth, as your breasts will likely grow even larger when your milk comes in during the first few days after pregnancy.
If you plan to exercise during pregnancy you’ll also want a strong and supportive exercise bra, particularly if your breasts have grown a cup size or two. Some women resort to wearing two bras to reduce their discomfort while exercising. Most women will survive on two or three bras during pregnancy and thereafter. You may find you need to have a couple of different sizes handy as your breasts grow, change and develop during and after your pregnancy.
Most women find their breasts return to their pre-pregnancy size and sometimes a bit smaller after pregnancy. This is perfectly normal and a common side effect of pregnancy, not breastfeeding. It is pregnancy rather than breastfeeding that actually causes all of these changes to occur in the breasts.
What to look for if you are selecting bra for pregnancy:
- Good support,
- Deep band beneath the cups,
- Wide shoulder straps,
- Adjustable closure (back-fastening bras give you more flexibility to adjust than front-fastening bras),
- Avoid underwire bras.
Buying a good supportive bra can help. If your breast size increases greatly, you may want to sleep in a cotton supportive sports bra at night.
Sensitive and tender breasts
Hormones in your body are preparing your breasts for lactation. The milk ducts are growing and being stretched as they fill with milk early in pregnancy. All this causes your breasts to be more sensitive, particularly your nipples. This can be a bonus for your sex life or can cause you discomfort. Just be more delicate with your breasts (soft bra, soft cloths, minimum tough).
Colotrum is known as pre-milk, which is a sweet and watery fluid that is easy to digest. During your second trimester your breasts will begin to produce colostrum. Colostrum appears thick and yellow at first, and as birth draws near, it becomes pale and almost colorless. Colostrum will provide your baby with his first few meals before your milk comes in. Discharge may occur at any time, when your breasts are massaged, or when sexually stimulated. You can use a breast pad if it becomes noticeable or if it makes you feel more comfortable.