Breast Changes You May Experience During Pregnancy

You’d think that pregnancy is all about that growing bump, but your belly won’t be the only part of you that will change during the next nine months. Your breasts may surprise you with all the changes they go through, from the early weeks of pregnancy up until your due date. Read on to find out just how your breasts will change throughout your pregnancy, and learn how you can alleviate some of the discomforts they may cause.

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.

Breast changes in pregnancy

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 moisturizing 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 color, but if it comes out tinged with blood, then talk to your healthcare provider 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 wide band under the cups
  • Wide shoulder straps
  • Adjustable closure
  • No under wiring.

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 health care provider about which lotion you should use.
Curious about the other changes your body will go through during your pregnancy? See our pregnancy calendar to find out what is going on in your body and with your growing baby each week, month, or trimester
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