Breast Changes During Pregnancy: When and How It Happens
Your body and hormones begin changing early in your pregnancy, and your breasts may even be one of the first areas you notice this shift happening. Here are some of the ways your breasts may change throughout your prenatal journey!
Breast Changes in Early Pregnancy Begin at Conception
Did you know that your body begins preparing to bring your baby into the world before you may even realize that you’re pregnant? While it may be quite some time until your body has visibly changed – most significantly with the addition of that cute baby bump! – many first trimester symptoms are the earliest indicators that your body is making room for the growth and development of your new little one. Your hormones begin changing rapidly during this time, and your breasts are often one of the first areas of the body where you can feel this shift occurring. This is because your breasts are already preparing to make milk to feed and nourish your baby after he or she arrives! Breast tenderness and sensitivity are often one of the first signs that women report as noticing upon finding out that they are pregnant – or even before.
Breast soreness and tenderness may linger throughout your pregnancy, be most prevalent in your first and last weeks, or not be very noticeable at all until shortly before labor and delivery – it all depends on how quickly – and when – your breasts grow during pregnancy. Other breast changes during pregnancy that may occur include:
- Montgomery Tubercles: These tiny, painless bumps develop on the areola to help lubricate and protect the area – and are totally normal. In fact, research suggests that newborns may even recognize the smell of the secretions from these tubercles, which helps them find the nipple and latch in the hours and days after birth.
- Larger, More Prominent Veins: You may notice the veins in your breasts becoming larger and more visible beneath your skin. This is due to significantly increased blood volume throughout your body, which is necessary to support both you and the increasing needs of your growing baby.
- Darker Areolas: The sensitive skin that makes up your areolas may become darker over the course of your pregnancy, or later in the second or third trimester. This is because pregnancy hormones can cause your skin cells to produce more pigment.
- Nipple Changes: Later in your prenatal journey, you’ll notice your nipples begin to change as they get ready to nurse and feed your baby. They will likely become larger, more prominent, or even change shape. If you have inverted or flat nipples, that’s okay! There are still options for nursing your little one and ensuring they receive your breast milk once they arrive.
- Skin Changes: As your breasts grow, itchiness, stretch marks, and skin sensitivity may become common symptoms as your skin’s elasticity in this area is stretched to what may feel like the max – this is normal and usually just means that your breasts are growing to accommodate your expanding milk ducts, so you can begin breastfeeding your little one as soon as he or she is born.
Depending where you are in your pregnancy, you may already be noticing swelling, soreness, tenderness, and the feeling of fullness in your breasts – these symptoms are often the first to occur and may continue through your pregnancy, as your breasts change and hormones like progesterone and estrogen rise.
Get the Products You Need Now
While every mom’s body changes differently, most discover that they need some extra comfortable, breathable, and supportive bras around early in their second trimester. Invest in bras that can pull double duty and be used both as a comfortable maternity bra and then later as easy access options while nursing and/or pumping. Opt for non-wired options designed to grow with you that are made with soft materials gentle on sensitive skin, provide quick access for anytime feedings, and include foam cup inserts for added discretion and protection, if that’s important to you. A few good bras can make all the difference when it comes to the comfort you deserve during pregnancy and through your breastfeeding journey!
Additionally, your breasts usually start producing colostrum – a thick, yellowish-gold first milk – during your second trimester. You may not experience leakage at this time, though it can become more likely during your third trimester and as you get closer to labor and delivery. Still, some women may not notice leakage at all during their pregnancy. If you do experience any early leakage, however, having a supply of nursing pads on hand can help protect your clothes – even if you end up not needing the nursing pads while pregnant, you’ll almost certainly need them after your little one arrives and while breast milk feeding!
Whether this is your first baby or you’ve been through pregnancy before, each experience is different. You may have one or two symptoms now that you didn’t experience in previous pregnancies or your breast changes during pregnancy this time around may be totally different from what they were in earlier prenatal experiences! This is an exciting time in your pregnancy and in your life, so knowing what to expect on the journey ahead, keeping an open dialogue with your healthcare provider, and remembering to make time for yourself and your comfort can lower stress and help you have an even better prenatal experience. You got this!