Breast Changes in Pregnancy

Breasts Changes as Pregnancy Symptoms

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You may have heard that one of the first pregnancy symptoms many women have is changes to their breast tissue. It is true that your breasts will respond to you being pregnant by changing in preparation for breastfeeding. So what do your breasts feel like in pregnancy? Most pregnant women would say heavy and sensitive (which is not always a bad thing). Here are some of the changes you can expect:

  • Sore Breasts
    Early in the first trimester you may notice that your breasts are sore or tender. For some women this is also a sign of an impending period, so it may go unnoticed. You may have a slight tenderness when you touch your breasts or you can have the severe pain whenever you wear a bra. Both variants are normal and are usually most intense in the first trimester. This is one of the reasons that sex in the first trimester is often avoided by some women. Sex in pregnancy is safe, you may just want to avoid having anyone touch your nipples. (More on sore breasts in pregnancy.)
  • Nipple Changes
    Your nipples may become larger and darker as your pregnancy progresses. You may also notice small, goose bump or pimple like white areas on your areola. These are normal. They are called Montgomery's tubercules. Avoid popping these bumps, as they provide a protective substance to keep your breasts healthy.
  • Larger Breasts
    Towards the end of the first trimester or the beginning of the second trimester you may notice that your breasts begin to grow. This is again the tissues inside the breast preparing for nursing. Towards the end of pregnancy you will want to be fitted for a nursing bra to help accommodate the larger breasts. This may also help ensure that you are more comfortable. Some women find that a special sleep bra is very helpful to them as well.
  • Leaking Colostrum
    Colostrum is the first milk your body makes. It will provide your baby with everything he or she needs to start life, including a dose of immunities and protection from jaundice. Towards the end of pregnancy some women may find that their breasts leak this golden color fluid. Or you may notice that your nipples have a film or caked substance, this is all colostrum. You can use a breast pad if it becomes noticeable or if it makes you feel more comfortable.
  • No Breast Changes
    You may be one of the women who have only slight symptoms or no symptoms of breast changes in pregnancy. Don't panic. It has nothing to do with your ability to have a successful pregnancy. There may be some concern over something called insufficient glandular tissue (IGT) or breast hypoplasia. Be sure to talk to your midwife or doctor about this and insist on a breast exam.

    Changing breasts are a part of pregnancy. Learning to cope with the changes, both in the sense of the physical symptoms, and in the clothing arena, is a must for having a positive pregnancy. 

    Sources:

    Cassar-Uhl, D. Finding Sufficiency: Breastfeeding With Insufficient Glandular Tissue. Praclaerus Press, 2014.

    Galbarczyk A. Am J Hum Biol. 2011 Jul-Aug;23(4):560-2. doi: 10.1002/ajhb.21177. Epub 2011 May 4. Unexpected changes in maternal breast size during pregnancy in relation to infant sex: an evolutionary interpretation.

    Mohrbacher, N. Breastfeeding Answers Made Simple: A Guide for Helping Mothers. Hale Publishing, 2010.

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