4 Common Breast Changes During Pregnancy
You expected your belly to change during pregnancy, but what about your breasts? You might be surprised at how early and how much they change while you’re pregnant.
“A lot of things are going on with your breasts,” says Kia Hollis, a certified nurse midwife at Mercy Medical Center’s Metropolitan OB/GYN in Baltimore. They’re getting ready to feed a baby and to support your body during pregnancy and postpartum.
These are a few changes you may notice:
Swollen or larger breasts can be one of the first symptoms of pregnancy. As pregnancy hormones increase, blood flow and fluid also increase. Your milk ducts begin to grow. Your breasts may feel full or heavy.
Feeling Sore or Sensitive
“Your breasts may also start to feel itchy and tender because of the growth,” says Hollis. “And they might also be very sensitive because of the hormonal changes that are occurring in pregnancy.”
During your pregnancy, pay close attention to how your bras fit. “If we’re wearing the wrong bra size, that can increase the tenderness, discomfort, and pain that we experience,” Hollis says. It’s a good idea to have bra fittings several times throughout your pregnancy, since your breasts may continue to change in size. Look for stretchy styles without underwires for maximum comfort.
Darker Nipples and Areolas
Around the second trimester, you may notice your nipples and areolas get darker, says Hollis. This is due to hormones that affect the pigment in your skin. At about the same time, you may also notice a linea nigra, or dark line, appear down the center or your belly.
If you see some fluid leaking from your nipples, that’s because of the high levels of the hormone prolactin, says Abdulla Al Khan, M.D., a board-certified ob-gyn and director of maternal-fetal medicine and surgery at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. This hormone is responsible for milk production.
The fluid is called colostrum—a baby’s first food. It’s “the yellowish, thick substance that is produced prior to milk that’s very, very nutritious to the baby,” says Hollis.
Leaking can happen anytime during pregnancy but it’s most common during the second and third trimesters, says Al Khan. Not everyone experiences it, and leaking doesn’t predict success in breastfeeding.
Rest assured that most breast changes during pregnancy are typical. But look out for greenish or bloody nipple discharge, severe pain, lumps, or bumps—including in your armpit. If you have any of those symptoms, call your doctor or midwife, says Al Khan.
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