Breast Changes During Pregnancy

During pregnancy your belly is stretched and expanded to make room for your growing fetus. However, you may not realize the fact that almost all of your body is transformed due to the hormonal changes that happen during pregnancy and the area that is most affected by these changes are the breasts.

During pregnancy, dramatic changes occur in your breasts as they prepare to fulfill their role of providing nutrition to your little one. Read on to learn the various breast changes during pregnancy along with the tips to deal with the discomfort caused due to them.

Common Breast Changes During Pregnancy

1. Soreness of Breasts

Soreness of breasts is a common change that occurs most commonly during the first trimester of pregnancy. It is experienced as tenderness or sensitivity to touch. It is caused due to rapidly increasing levels of estrogen and progesterone. The soreness lessens or may disappear altogether once you enters the second trimester of pregnancy.

How to deal with it: However, you can try the following tips to reduce the discomfort caused as a result of sore breasts:

  • Wear a maternity bra that is well fitted
  • Do not wear underwired bras
  • While sleeping wear a sleep bra made of cotton
  • Take care and avoid injury to your breasts such as while walking past things
  • Ask your partner to avoid touching your breasts
  • Avoid brushing air while naked so as to prevent brushing your nipples accidently

2. Increase in Breast Size

The size of breasts starts increasing by as early as sixth week of pregnancy and may increase till the end of pregnancy. You will find that both the cup size and band size of your bra increases during pregnancy. Your breasts may grow gradually throughout the period of pregnancy or they may grow intermittently. The skin of your breasts may feel itchy if they undergo a period of rapid growth. You can relieve the discomfort caused due to itching by applying moisturizer. Stretch marks may also develop on your breasts, but these will fade as time passes.

How to deal with it: You should provide proper support to your breasts as they grow in size. Get yourself professionally fitted for a new bra during pregnancy to choose the right sized bra that provides support to your breasts. You can also wear nursing bras.

3. Development of Visible Veins

You may develop noticeable or visible veins on your breasts during pregnancy. This happens due to the increased blood flow; your body has almost 50% more blood flowing by the time you reach the end of your pregnancy to meet the demands of your baby. The increase in blood volume makes your veins visible especially on the abdomen and breasts. Your veins will become less visible after the birth of your baby and after you stop feeding your baby.

4. Leakage

Your breasts start producing milk from as early as the 16th week of pregnancy. You may notice occasional small leakage of straw colored fluid referred to as colostrum. You can wear breast pad to avoid soaking of your clothes. You should contact your physician, if you notice leakage of blood from your nipples.

5. Nipple Changes

Your nipples and the surrounding skin (areola) will also undergo changes. The skin of your nipples and areola will darken during pregnancy. The size of your nipples will increase as you approach the end of your pregnancy.

During the first trimester, small bumps also referred to as the Montgomery’s tubercles start appearing on your areola. These small bumps are sebaceous glands that develop to secrete oil to prevent bacterial growth.

6. Formation of Lumps and Bumps

Some females may feel the presence of lumps during pregnancy. These may be due to the presence of cysts, fibroadenomas or galactoceles (cysts containing milk). Though all of these are benign, still you should get yourself checked by your physician, in case you notice any new lump or any changes in the existing lump.

Pictures that Show Breast Changes During Pregnancy

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First picture: The breast size and volume increases as the pregnancy progresses.

Second picture: The size of the nipples and areola increases as the pregnancy progresses. The color of the skin of the nipples and areola also darkens.

Breast Changes During Pregancy: Trimester by Trimester

Trimester

Description

First Trimester

Your breasts may become sore and tender to touch during the first trimester. They may also become fuller than before.

Second Trimester

The size of the breast increases and may increase up to 4-6 inches or 1-3 cup sizes. The tenderness decreases by now. The size of the nipple and areola also increases and may become almost double their original size. The color of the nipple and areola also darkens.

Third Trimester

Breasts continue to increase in size along with your tummy. They will become heavier and fuller. Montgomery’s tubercles will develop around the areola. The elasticity of the nipples increases.

Should I Worry About Breast Changes During Pregnancy?

Breast cancer is one of the commonest cancers that happen during pregnancy. It tends to happen in females in their mid-30s. Though pregnancy itself is not the cause of breast cancer, the increase in hormones during pregnancy may accelerate the growth of cancer. Hence, it is important to perform regular breast exams even during pregnancy and any suspicious lumps and bumps should be promptly evaluated.

To diagnose breast cancer during pregnancy is more difficult due to the normal changes that happen in the breasts due to pregnancy. Moreover, the tumors are often larger and more advanced at the time of detection in pregnant females.

How to Diagnose Breast Cancer During Pregnancy

Visit your physician regularly during pregnancy and get regular breast exams to rule out any suspicious bumps and lumps in your breasts. You should also perform regular self breast exams at your home. In case of a suspicious lump, you would be advised to have a biopsy of the lump. During biopsy a small tissue is taken from the suspicious lump, which is then examined for cancer cells under a microscope. Mammograms are not that helpful to diagnose breast cancer during pregnancy as the density of the breasts is increased due to pregnancy.

What Happens to Your Baby in Case You Are Diagnosed with Breast Cancer?

Your baby will not get harmed due to breast cancer. The harm is caused due to some of the treatment methods that are used for treating breast cancer. Moreover, termination of pregnancy will not itself improve the prognosis of breast cancer in the mother. Cancer in early stages (I and II) will be treated with surgery to remove either the lump or the whole breast (mastectomy). The preferred surgery during the first and second trimester is mastectomy, as the mother cannot be given radiation therapy until after delivery. Lumpectomy is the usual treatment of choice in the third trimester.

Watch a video for more information on breast changes during pregnancy: