Breast Changes in Pregnancy

Although pregnancy seems all about that growing bump and the baby, your belly isn't the only part of you that changes during this time. You may be surprised by all the changes your breasts go through, from the initial weeks of pregnancy to your due date. Continue reading to know the changes that happen in your breasts during pregnancy and how you can combat its discomforts.

Breast Changes in the First Trimester

One of the early signs of pregnancy you may notice is tenderness in your breasts. Shortly after conception, the hormonal changes your body is going through may make your breasts feel sensitive, sore, or even swollen. You might even notice breast changes in early pregnancy before a missed period or a positive pregnancy test.

If you're worried about the discomfort due to breast changes in early pregnancy, keep in mind that these symptoms are likely to subside a few weeks after your body gets used to the different levels of hormones.

Breast Changes in the Second Trimester

During the second trimester, you will notice significant changes in your breasts. As your bump grows, so do your breasts. In fact, over the course of your pregnancy, your breasts can gain around one to three pounds in weight.

Another change you may notice in the second trimester is pigmentation in the skin around the nipples and breasts. Hormonal changes may stimulate the pigment-bearing cells in your skin, which can result in dark spots on your breasts and nipples. The areola, the area around the nipples, may darken as well.

As your breasts grow, your skin stretches, and you might notice some reddish, brown, or purple lines begin to appear on your breasts and on your growing belly. These are known as stretch marks and are caused by changes in the supportive tissue right under your skin. You can keep your skin soft by moisturising the skin, but this won't necessarily prevent stretch marks from appearing. Although you can never fully get rid of stretch marks once they show up, they will fade after the baby is born, and you may not even get them to start with.

Toward the end of your pregnancy, a little discharge may come from your nipples. This is perfectly normal, and it simply means your breasts are getting ready to produce milk. It could be that discharge comes from only one breast, or both, either spontaneously or only when you squeeze the breast or nipple. Discharge will usually appear milky, yellowy, or even greenish in colour, but if it comes out tinged with blood, then talk to your doctor about it.

What You Can Do to Ease Breast Discomfort in Pregnancy

As your breasts go through changes in pregnancy, it's normal to feel some discomfort. You can take some measures to feel more comfortable as your breasts grow over pregnancy by finding the right maternity bra. It's important to have a good, supportive bra that will help you feel more comfortable as your breasts grow.

When it comes to picking the right bra, you will want:

  • Good support

  • A wideband under the cups

  • Wide shoulder straps

  • Adjustable closure

  • No underwiring

A maternity bra is specially designed to be worn during and after pregnancy. It is usually made from stretchy fabric and features adjustable straps and hooks and eyes in the back that help accommodate your growing breasts. If your bra is feeling too tight, you might want to switch to a bigger size. Get a professional fitting to help you select the right band and cup size, as both of these can increase over the course of pregnancy.

Toward the end of your pregnancy, it's a good idea to invest in a nursing bra, which is designed for breastfeeding. A nursing bra comes with cups that drop down from the clasp and hook of the bra to make it easier for you to nurse your baby. Your breasts will feel fuller in the first weeks of breastfeeding, so it's important to find a bra that feels comfortable.

If you find your growing breasts uncomfortable at night, you can also try a sleep bra to help you feel more comfortable throughout the night. Also, if you are planning to do some exercise during pregnancy, invest in a supportive sports bra that fits properly to help alleviate any discomfort.

You can also try the following tips to help provide relief for breast pain and soreness:

  • Use breast pads: These can help shield your nipples from the lining of the bra if you find the material rubs too much.

  • Use hot or cold compresses on your breasts: Some women find relief with warm or cool temperatures.

  • Use lotions and creams for sore skin or itchy breasts: Talk to your doctor about which lotion you should use.

How to Choose the Best Bra During Pregnancy?

While shopping for bras, make sure you go to a store that specialises in bras. You can get professional fittings done at these stores. They also offer guidance as per your bra requirements throughout your pregnancy.

Choose bras that are easily adjustable to size changes or buy different bras in multiple sizes. Make sure the bras that you choose are soft and comfortable and contain no underwire.

Changes in the Breast After Pregnancy

After pregnancy, you may notice that your breasts are engorged as they continue to produce breastmilk. Once your breasts stop producing milk, they will return to their original size. However, it also differs from individual to individual. While for some, their breasts return to the normal size, for others, they remain larger or lose elasticity. Your nipples may or may not return to their original size but will become lighter in colour over time once your stop breastfeeding.

Intrigued to know about the other bodily changes during your pregnancy? Check out our pregnancy calendar to learn more about the changes happening in your body and the development of your growing baby each week, month, or trimester.