Breast changes

Almost as soon as you get pregnant, you'll notice changes in your breasts. These changes are normal as your breasts get ready to feed your baby after pregnancy.

What are common breast changes during pregnancy?

Tingling, swelling, sensitivity or tenderness

  • For many women, tenderness in the breasts is one of the first signs of pregnancy.
  • It is caused by increased amounts of female hormones in your body.
  • Your breasts may also tingle with temperature change.

Larger breast size

  • During early pregnancy, fat builds up in the breasts. The milk glands increase in size.
  • By six weeks, your breasts may be noticeably larger—by as much as a full cup size or more.
  • Your breasts may keep growing in both size and weight throughout the first three months of pregnancy.

Itchiness and stretch marks

  • As your breasts grow, the skin will stretch.
  • You may feel itchiness or develop stretch marks.

Larger veins

  • During pregnancy, there is an increased supply of blood to the breasts.
  • This may cause bluish veins to appear just under the skin.

Darker nipples and areolas

  • The nipples will grow darker and may stand out more.
  • The areolas (the skin around the nipples) darken and grow larger.
  • The small glands on the surface of the areolas become raised and bumpy.
  • These bumps produce an oily substance that keeps your nipples from cracking or drying out.

Leaking

  • Toward the end of pregnancy, some women find that their breasts are leaking a fluid.
  • This fluid is colostrum (the fluid that nourishes your baby for the first few days after delivery before your breasts start to make milk).
  • Colostrum may leak on its own or may leak during breast massage or sexual arousal.

How can you manage breast discomforts?

You may not be able to reduce soreness or tenderness in your breasts. But you can do some things to ease some of the discomfort.

Support bra

  • A good maternity bra can provide some relief. It will also support your back muscles.
  • As your breasts get larger, make sure your bra fits well and doesn’t irritate your nipples.
  • Maternity bras usually include extra rows of hooks so you can adjust the size as your body changes.
  • Cotton bras are more comfortable than synthetic ones because cotton allows the skin to breathe.

Nighttime support

  • A maternity bra or a pregnancy sleep bra (a soft, nonrestrictive cotton bra) may give your breasts added support and make you more comfortable during the night.

Breast pads

  • Wear disposable or washable breast pads if you are leaking colostrum.
  • Allow your breasts to air-dry a few times each day and after showering.

Bathing

  • Avoid soap on your nipples and areolas. Washing with soap tends to dry out the skin in this area.
  • Try using just warm water.

When should you talk to your provider about breast changes?

If you do not have any breast changes during pregnancy, other factors may be involved. If you had breast surgery (for instance, a biopsy or implants) before becoming pregnant, talk to your health care provider or a breastfeeding specialist.


Last reviewed: December, 2013

Almost as soon as you get pregnant, you'll notice changes in your breasts. These changes are normal as your breasts get ready to feed your baby after pregnancy.

What are common breast changes during pregnancy?

Tingling, swelling, sensitivity or tenderness

  • For many women, tenderness in the breasts is one of the first signs of pregnancy.
  • It is caused by increased amounts of female hormones in your body.
  • Your breasts may also tingle with temperature change.

Larger breast size

  • During early pregnancy, fat builds up in the breasts. The milk glands increase in size.
  • By six weeks, your breasts may be noticeably larger—by as much as a full cup size or more.
  • Your breasts may keep growing in both size and weight throughout the first three months of pregnancy.

Itchiness and stretch marks

  • As your breasts grow, the skin will stretch.
  • You may feel itchiness or develop stretch marks.

Larger veins

  • During pregnancy, there is an increased supply of blood to the breasts.
  • This may cause bluish veins to appear just under the skin.

Darker nipples and areolas

  • The nipples will grow darker and may stand out more.
  • The areolas (the skin around the nipples) darken and grow larger.
  • The small glands on the surface of the areolas become raised and bumpy.
  • These bumps produce an oily substance that keeps your nipples from cracking or drying out.

Leaking

  • Toward the end of pregnancy, some women find that their breasts are leaking a fluid.
  • This fluid is colostrum (the fluid that nourishes your baby for the first few days after delivery before your breasts start to make milk).
  • Colostrum may leak on its own or may leak during breast massage or sexual arousal.

How can you manage breast discomforts?

You may not be able to reduce soreness or tenderness in your breasts. But you can do some things to ease some of the discomfort.

Support bra

  • A good maternity bra can provide some relief. It will also support your back muscles.
  • As your breasts get larger, make sure your bra fits well and doesn’t irritate your nipples.
  • Maternity bras usually include extra rows of hooks so you can adjust the size as your body changes.
  • Cotton bras are more comfortable than synthetic ones because cotton allows the skin to breathe.

Nighttime support

  • A maternity bra or a pregnancy sleep bra (a soft, nonrestrictive cotton bra) may give your breasts added support and make you more comfortable during the night.

Breast pads

  • Wear disposable or washable breast pads if you are leaking colostrum.
  • Allow your breasts to air-dry a few times each day and after showering.

Bathing

  • Avoid soap on your nipples and areolas. Washing with soap tends to dry out the skin in this area.
  • Try using just warm water.

When should you talk to your provider about breast changes?

If you do not have any breast changes during pregnancy, other factors may be involved. If you had breast surgery (for instance, a biopsy or implants) before becoming pregnant, talk to your health care provider or a breastfeeding specialist.


Last reviewed: December, 2013