Bigger and better, or just bigger and tender? Here’s all you need to know about the changes in your breasts – and nipples – during pregnancy
Here are the most common changes that can happen to your breasts and nipples during pregnancy.
It’s not true that everyone’s breasts get bigger in pregnancy. However, your body is preparing for the arrival of a baby it expects to feed and so fat layers, an increased blood flow and the multiplying of milk-producing cells usually results in some breast growth.
An increase in size is usually more noticeable if it’s your first pregnancy.
You may well return to your regular size in the months after birth or, if you choose to breastfeed, once you stop breastfeeding.
You might find sleeping with a small cushion to support your larger breasts makes sleeping easier. You might also find wearing a bra to sleep helps. If you wear a bra to bed, make sure it’s not too restrictive.
Your body’s producing more oestrogen and progesterone, so it makes sense that this can have a similar affect in making your breasts sore like you might’ve experienced before your period.
The tenderness usually feels worse in the early weeks of pregnancy. It can occur later than this, so don’t worry if your breasts are sore later down the line.
If your breasts are very painful, mention it to your midwife.
You could find your nipples suddenly hardening and feeling tender and sore.
You might need to warm them or gently massage your nipples to soften them again. Alternately, cooling them might help ease the soreness. Try something that’s not burning cold, such as a cool damp flannel.
Some pregnant women complain of ‘icy nipple’, when cold water or weather can make their nipples painfully over-sensitive. If this happens to you, warming your nipples with a bath or shower, or gentle massage, could offer some relief.
The most likely cause for itchy breasts is the stretching that occurs as your breasts enlarge. It’s just like the skin around your bump getting itchy as it grows.
An oil or cream specially formulated for skin in pregnancy could help keep your skin more supple and less irritated.
During pregnancy and breastfeeding, the increased blood supply can mean your veins are more noticeable around your breasts.
Your nipples and areola may darken. Some people think this is to make the ‘target’ for your suckling baby easier to find!
“Little glands on the areolas, called Montgomery’s tubercles (which secrete an anti-bacterial oil), may grow more ‘pimply’,” says Anne Richley, midwife.
Breasts commonly increase by two cup sizes in pregnancy, and the enlargement can cause itchiness, stretch marks and a view of veins beneath. Some mums find the extra sensitivity more sensual.
Anne Richley, midwife
Before your milk ‘comes in’, about three days after your baby is born, your breasts create colostrums. Colostrum is thicker and more yellow in appearance than regular milk, and your breasts will start producing it when you’re pregnant, around the 16-week mark. After this time, you might notice some leakage.
The amount of leaking is usually quite small, but make sure you keep your breasts dry and comfortable. If you need to, wear a bigger bra and try to wear cotton next to your skin.
If the leakage happens regularly, you can wear the breast pads that breastfeeding mums use.
You could find that having sex brings on a bit of leakage, too. This is completely natural.
Whether you leak or not during pregnancy doesn’t determine how good your milk production is, so don’t worry if you experience no leakage.
Occasionally, you might notice spotting of blood. It shouldn’t be anything to worry about, but mention it to your midwife anyway.
What to look for in a maternity bra:
Our step-by-step guide to buying the right maternity bra will show you how to find the perfect style and size.
What to look for in a nursing bra:
Our step-by-step buyer's guide to nursing bras will show you how to get the right bra when you're not sure how big your boobs will become!
“My breasts have always been small, at 34A, and perky. Within 10 weeks of pregnancy I’d gone up to a 36C and was covered in stretch marks, which I was moody about!
“The worst thing for me was the sheer volume of leakage. Pads were soaked in minutes, so I used those cups you’re meant to put over one breast while you’re feeding, except that I had to wear them all the time and empty them every hour. Embarrassing? Oh yes.
“My son is now 2 years old and I’m a 36A – the smallest I’ve ever been. And they’re an odd shape, which really bothered me. But I’ve started using Avon Sculpt & Shape Breast Control Cream. It’s fantastic stuff.
“My advice to women would be to accept that your boobs are going to take on a life of their own – you’ll just have to adjust. Use lots of moisturiser all through the pregnancy and hope for the best!”
Sarah-Jane, 24, mum to Joshua, 2
“On day three I had concrete tits. They were alien beings attached to my chest. I had great expressing advice from my midwife mum, so I never had mastitis or terrible engorgement. Now, they’re just a sad representation of what they were."
Megan, 36, mum to Teddy, 7, and Abigail, 3
I'm 31 weeks and have gone from a 36C to a 38DD! During my first trimester they were exremely sensitive and tender, then they felt ok for a few weeks and now they just ache most of the time. Hubby's a booby man tho so he loves it (LOL)!!!!!
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