How do breasts change during pregnancy?

                 How do breasts change during pregnancy?

How do breasts change during pregnancy?

During pregnancy, a woman’s body undergoes many changes.She may gain some weight, there is swelling on her hands and feet, she may experience some hair fall and their breasts also change. These changes are normal and you should have full knowledge about them, so you don’t get scared when you experience these changes. Most importantly changes in the breasts, as they change a lot during pregnancy. 

It is important to know what changes your breasts will experience, such as their look and feel. You should be fully aware of your breasts to know what is normal and what is not, so you know if anything unusual happens to them.

Changes in the breasts are the first sign of pregnancy. They continue to change with your pregnancy. Pregnancy releases hormones like estrogen and progesterone which readies your breasts for lactation. Estrogen generates another hormone, prolactin, which is responsible for milk production and the enlargement of breasts. That is how a woman’s breast produces milk even after the pregnancy.

What changes you should expect during pregnancy? 

For most women changes in the breasts is the earliest sign of pregnancy for them. These early changes in your breasts include:

• Your breasts may start to feel full and heavy
• There is soreness in your breasts
• There may be some swelling
• Area around the nipple may darken

These are not the only changes they experience. As the pregnancy progresses the changes also progresses with them. Let us see what changes happen during the three trimesters of the pregnancy. 

Changes in First Trimester.

Some of the changes that happen in the first trimester disappear after the first few weeks of the pregnancy. The changes in the first trimester are:

• Due to increase in the blood, the veins on your breasts may become more visible by becoming large and turning bluer. 
• The size of the breasts may also increase
• You may start to feel tenderness and swollenness in your breasts
• Sometimes you may feel pain up to your armpits. This happens because armpits have a breast tissue called the Tail of Spence.
• The nipple and the area around it also change during pregnancy. They become more sensitive and grows in the size
• The area around the nipple starts to darken in colour
• In that darken part you may develop small painless bumps (Montgomery Tubercles) which are helpful during breastfeeding.

Changes in the second trimester

• In the second trimester the breast size will continue to increase. This means that your bra size will also change and you may need to buy new bras that fit your breast perfectly.
• Your breasts will produce colostrum. Colostrum is the first stage of breast milk and it is produced in the first two weeks of the second trimester.
• Your breasts will feel heavier and fuller due to the developing milk ducts. 
• There may be soreness in your breasts during the second trimester.

Changes in the Third Trimester

• During the third-trimester milk ducts continue to grow which makes the breasts even heavier and fuller.
• Size of the nipples will continue to grow along with the change in their shape.
• The area around the nipples continue to darken and with the veins becoming more visible.
• To accommodate the increased size of your breasts the skin stretches which may lead to itchiness and dryness.
• You may also develop stretch marks on your breast.

When do breasts produce milk during pregnancy?

Breasts start to produce colostrum in the second trimester of pregnancy. Colostrum is the first form of milk that pregnant women produce. It is denser than the later breast milk and is yellow. The later breast milk comes in after some days of the delivery. Though colostrum or ‘first milk’ plays different role than the later breast milk. 

Your breast starts the production of the milk early in the pregnancy so you should not worry if the later milk takes some time to come in. After all, in the initial days’ colostrum is enough to feed your baby. The colostrum transforms in the mature milk in about 2-5 days after delivery. The later breast milk has more volume as compared to the colostrum and has a different composition.  

As every pregnancy differs from woman to woman, breast milk may come in at different times. However, you can try some ways in which breast milk may come early. You can try skin-to-skin contact, breastfeeding within 30-60 minutes of delivery, and feeding early and more often. 

Do breasts lump appear during pregnancy?

Usually, breast lumps do not appear during pregnancy. However, you can sometimes develop them but they are not cancerous or life-threatening. The common lumps that you can develop are:

• Cysts: A sac like a pocket that contains fluids and air along with the other substances. Although most of the cysts you may develop anywhere are benign.
• Galactoceles: These are the cysts filled with milk. They may develop due to the blockage of a milk duct during breastfeeding. 
• Fibroadenomas: These are solid non-cancerous lumps that develop in the lobules of the breast. These lumps are firm, s\rubbery, smooth or hard and they have a well-defined shape.

All these lumps are non-cancerous and benign. They are not the segues for breast cancer later in life. After all, the chances of breast cancer are minimum in women of childbearing age and when they are pregnant. However, if you experience any changes in these lumps then you should get them checked out by your doctor.

Finding the right bra sizes during pregnancy.

As your breast grows in size during pregnancy your existing bras may not fit anymore. In that case, you should purchase new bras according to your new size. It is best to measure your breasts and see how many cups you have gone up. Visit your nearby lingerie store and find the right size there. While choosing bras keep comfort, support and ease in mind. As your breast will continue to increase during the pregnancy period, you should go for bras that are adjustable in size or buy different bra sizes.

The right size bras are:

• If the cup of the bra fits perfectly without any bulging at the top, bottom or sides.
• If the strap of the bra does not dig in your skin.
• If the bra fits when you tie them at the loosest of the hook.
• If the strap at the back and front are at the same level and hugs your body.
• If the shoulder straps do not move when you raise your arms or do any other activity.

You should also buy a nursing bra which makes it easy to breastfeed. In addition to this, you should also buy sleep bras. These help in supporting the breasts at night during sleep, as your breasts are heavier than before.

How does your breast change after pregnancy?

Mainly the changes that occur during pregnancy happen to prepare them for breastfeeding. After the pregnancy, the estrogen and progesterone level decreases that leads to the increase in another hormone, prolactin, which produces milk. It is recommended to give breast milk at least till six months. After that, it depends on the mother if she wants to continue feeding or not. If your breasts leak some milk after the delivery then there is no need to be alarmed. It is quite common. Some women’s breasts leak milk when they hear their baby crying or when they are in an emotional state.

There may be engorgement even after the pregnancy, as their breasts are full of milk but they are not coming out. Often pumping the milk may help in reducing the engorgement. After pregnancy, the size of breasts may remain the same or they may go back to their original size when they are done producing the milk. Also, the nipples may retain their original size or they might remain big. But the area around the nipple which darkens during pregnancy will become lighter once you stop breastfeeding. 

Plausible breast problems after pregnancy

You may face some problems when your milk comes in and you start breastfeeding. These problems may go after you stop breastfeeding. Some of these may go on their own and some may need to be treated by the doctor.

Some of the problems are:

• Sore and cracked nipples
• Engorgement
• Blocked milk ducts
• Mastitis
• Breast abscess
• Thrush

Sore and cracked nipples

These can develop if the baby does not suck or attach to the breast correctly. If the baby only sucks the nipple and not the whole areola (the area around the nipple) then the baby’s tongue or roof of the mouth rubs on the nipple. This may cause nipples to become sore and sometimes cracked.

The nipples will only heal if the baby attaches to the breast properlySo if you need any help with breastfeeding you should contact your midwife or breastfeeding counsellor as soon as possible.


Breast engorgement happens when the breasts are overfilled with milk. Some women feel their breasts to be hard and throbbing. Breast engorgement first happens when the milk comes into the breasts.

With engorged breasts, it’s important to make sure your babyhas attached to the breast correctly. You can ask for help from your midwife, doctor or breastfeeding counsellor.

Generally, breast engorgement may be eased by:

• Feeding your baby regularly
• Expressing or using a breast pump to milk some amount so it becomes easier for your baby to attach to your breast.
• Wearing a well-fitting nursing bra
• Apply warm pressure on your breasts just before pumping out to avoid leaking.
• Applying chilled cabbage leaves to your breasts after feeding may reduce pain and swelling
• If you are suffering from pain then take paracetamol as recommended by the doctor.

Blocked milk ducts

When a milk duct becomes blocked while breastfeeding you may experience a small, painful, hard lump or a bruised feelingThis may happen when you stop breastfeeding. Things that may help in easing your pain:

• Feeding your baby more than a regular feeding
• Changing your position while feeding as that may drain the breast from the milk more.
• Gently massaging the lump while you are feeding the baby
• Applying warm cloth to the breast
• Wearing loose bra and clothes so the milk can flow freely


When a breast becomes inflamed or infected because the engorgement or blocked milk ducts continue that is called mastitis. The symptoms are redness of the breaststhey feel hot and are painful. Mastitis can also cause flu-like symptomssuch as headaches, nausea and fever.

To cure mastitis, you can try these methods:

• Continue to breastfeed frequently, especially from theinflamed breast this helps in clearing the infection and isn’t harmful to the baby.
• If you think you might have contracted mastitis, you’ll need to see your doctor and they will treat it with antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs.


Thrush can be passed from mother to baby. If you saw these signs in your baby it means they have thrush. The symptoms may include:

• creamy patch on the tongue or in the mouth.
• Babies may feel soreness in the mouth. It may cause restlessness during feeding and they will pull away from the breast. 
• Nappy rash or soreness is another symptom of thrush.

If your baby has these symptoms then it is better to talk to your doctor. And both you and your baby will get treated at the same time.

Pregnancy has most of the effect on the breasts of a woman. It increases its size, the area around the nipple darkens, the breasts feel heavier and fuller. Breasts not only change during the pregnancy but also change after the pregnancy. It depends from woman to woman if the breast will stay bigger or they’ll snap to its original size.

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