Are you experiencing some weird and wonderful breast changes during pregnancy?
Your 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. Just like during puberty, these changes are quite unpredictable and at the mercy of your genetics.
Let’s explore the changes you may see in your mamas.
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Breast Changes in Pregnancy
Have you felt a weird tingling sensation in your breasts yet? It’s one of the first breast changes you’ve probably notice. That tingling sensation is a common sign that you have a tiny little human being growing inside you. It’s caused by your body making more blood around 3-4 weeks pregnant.
If the tingling isn’t weird enough, you’ll start to get small painful spells. You can thank you lovely hormone surges for those, plus all the other changes we’re about to discuss.
Massaging your breasts can help relieve the pain. In fact, your other half may even be happy to do this for you! If the pain is ongoing for a few days, mild painkillers will make you more comfortable.
Stimulating your nipples in later pregnancy (after 37 weeks) 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.
Never mind 50 shades of grey, think 50 shades of blue. This is caused by veins under your skin, which you may see clearly if you have pale skin. 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 should notice the nipple getting darker. It’s thought this helps new-borns to see the nipple better when nursing, especially during night feeds.
This is the change you’ll love to see, like a free boob job. Your breast will get fuller during pregnancy or very soon after your baby is born. It’s caused by an increase in blood, fat and breast tissue growing in 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.
A side effect of having larger breasts is that they will change in shape. Your breasts will be rounder and fuller near to the armpit. On average expect to 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. If you have flat or inverted nipples, you may notice that your nipple is pushing outwards.
Related: 6 Best Bras for Pregnancy and Nursing
Let’s not beat around the bush, you’ll sweat like a pig when you’re pregnant. We all know that breasts are one of the first places to suffer the dreaded 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 breasts. 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 can be 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 affects pregnant women due to increased estrogen. See your doctor if you think you may be affected.
6. Nipple Texture
Take your finger and run a circle around the outside of your nipple. The small bumps you are feeling are known as Montgomery’s tubercles. These little glands produce oils for your skin to keep the nipple soft and supple. These oils are antibacterial and prevent breast infections.
Once your baby is born these 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 breasts grow the skin may feel tense, taut or dry. It’s caused by rapid stretching of your skin to keep up with the changing size. You may notice small stretch marks on the side or underneath your breast. Your genetics will decide if you get them or not. A good stretch mark cream or oil can help to prevent them worsening.
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. If you are worried about any breast lumps, discuss it with your doctor for peace of mind.
An increased fullness of your breasts will cause them to feel a lot heavier. This is more noticeable if you have larger breasts, to begin with. The increased weight may cause your breasts to drop a little. Around 1-2 lbs (0.5kg) of your pregnancy weight is due to breast changes. It’s important you wear a good supportive bra to prevent upper back and shoulder pain. During the night use a sleep bra for comfortable support.
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.
If you are leaking a lot you can express any pre-birth breast milk and store it. This is particularly useful if you are diabetic mothers and want to maintain baby’s blood sugars without using formula. We don’t recommend expressing before 37 weeks as stimulation can cause pre-term labor.