Experiencing some weird and wonderful breast changes in pregnancy?

Breast Changes during Pregnancy

Hormones will affect every part of your pregnant body including your breasts. These changes help your body prepare for your new baby. Don’t worry they won’t happen all at once. Over 9 months you’ll see some subtle and some obvious changes to your breasts. Changes are quite unpredictable and at the mercy of genetics. Let’s explore the changes you may see in your mamas.

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Breast Changes in Pregnancy

1. Sensation

This is one of the first changes you may notice. A tingling sensation in your breasts is a common sign that you are pregnant. Increased blood flow causes this sensation at around 3-4 weeks pregnant.

Throughout pregnancy your breast may go through painful spells. Different changes or hormone surges will cause this pain. Massaging the breasts can help relieve the pain. If the pain is ongoing for a few days, mild painkiller will make your more comfortable.

Stimulating your nipples in later pregnancy can put you into labor by releasing oxytocin. Most women will experience tightening after 15 minutes of nipple stimulation. Some women swear by it unfortunately professionals don’t recommend it as there are no high quality studies on the practice yet.

2. Color

At around 2 months pregnant you may star to notice a bluish color to your breasts. If you have very pale skin you may even see your veins clearly. These veins are getting ready for the increased blood supply you have in pregnancy.

Your nipples will also begin to change color. At around 3 months pregnant you will notice the nipple getting darker. Some biologists believe this helps new-borns to see the nipple better, especially during night feeds.

3. Size

Your breast will get fuller during pregnancy. This may be subtle is some women until baby is born. It’s caused by an increase in blood flow, fat stores and breast tissue growth throughout pregnancy. Growth stops in most women around 32 weeks which is a good time to get fitted for a maternity or nursing bra.

Remember your chest size will also increase so you will need to go up a size or two. A good bra with at least 3 hooks will provide support and minimize any backache from your breasts.

4. Shape

A side effect of having larger breast is that they will change in shape. Your breasts will be rounder and fuller near to the armpit. On average women go up around two cup sizes, but be prepared to go up a few.

Another shape change you may notice is protruding nipples. They can also have a puffy or swollen appearance. This usually doesn’t happen until a few weeks before birth, however it may occur sooner. Women with flat or inverted nipples may notice that the nipple has pushed outwards.

5. Temperature

Hormonal changes and increased blood supply will cause to sweat more. Breasts tend to be a common place to sweat. The damp conditions can cause you to itch a lot. Try to keep the breast as dry as possible by using a pH friendly soap and wearing a cotton bra. Underwired bras may also cause more friction under the breast’s look out for a good supporting non wired bra. See your maternity care provider if the itch persists as you may have a thrush infection. This is extremely common in pregnancy and I cleared up with a topical cream.

Sudden temperature changes can cause sharp, shooting pains along to the nipple. Persistent pain, blanching or whiteness of the nipple may be a sign of Raynaud’s phenomenon. This affect pregnant women due to increased estrogen. See your doctor if you think you may be affected.

6. Nipple Texture

Your nipples have small bumps around them known as Montgomery’s tubercles. These are little glands which produce oils for the skin to keep the nipple soft and supple. If you run your hand on this area it feels bumpy.

These oils are antibacterial and prevent breast infections. Once you baby is born the Montgomery’s tubercles help to ‘toughen’ up your nipples to the constant friction of feeding. Try not to use harsh hygiene products on your breast as this can disrupt the oils.

7. Breast Texture

As your breast increase the skin will begin to stretch to keep up with the growth. Your breast tissue may also feel tense, taut or dry. You may notice small stretch mark around the side or underneath the breast. A good moisturizer or skin oil can help to reduce these, however your genetics will decide if you get them or not.

If you’ve had breast augmentation you may experience increased tenderness as the new tissue grows around your implant.

Your breasts may start to feel lumpy inside. This is usually caused by small milk filled cysts called galactoceles. They usually resolve themselves, but you can help reduce them with gentle massage.

8. Weight

Increased fullness of your breast can cause them to feel very heavy. This is more noticeable if you have larger breast to begin with. The increased weight can also cause you breasts to drop a little. Around 1-2 lbs (0.5kg) of your pregnancy weight is due to breast changes.

9. Leaking

As you near the end of your pregnancy your breast are ready for baby to arrive. The pregnancy hormone progesterone can cause small leaks of colostrum (the first breast milk). You may want to wear breast pads so you’re not caught short with a soaked top.

Some women actually express any pre-birth breast milk and store it. This is particularly useful for diabetic mothers who want to maintain baby’s blood sugars without using formula. Don’t express before 37 weeks as stimulation can cause pre-term labor.