Updated: Mar 3
When you are pregnant your body is creating a whole new human being. It is quite normal for your body to go through some changes. Some of these changes can be subtle, only you would realize them, and some are obvious from the outside. Breast changes are one of the subtle ones and also the changes being on the breast area may cause people to shy away from talking about them. So, if you want more information about them, you are in the right place.
What are the changes in breasts during pregnancy?
First of all, we want to inform you that they are normal, just like how we experience breast changes during our periods they happen during pregnancy as well. They are one of the first signs you are pregnant because your body is getting ready to produce milk. The shift in hormones causes your breasts and nipples to be tender. Their size, shape, texture, and color continue to change as you move along with your pregnancy.
Breast size changes during pregnancy
Breasts can go up one or two cup sizes, according to a CGATE study, the breast size of a pregnant woman increases on average by 96 ml. These changes in breast size can make wearing a bra very uncomfortable. Even your most comfortable bra can feel painful. Most women prefer to use a maternity bra during this time because it gives them the support they need without the pain.
Changes in the shape of breasts
Just like how pregnancy changes the size of the breast it can change the shape as well. Only one breast getting larger can cause asymmetry. They are normal and temporary, once you are done with breastfeeding, your breasts will go back to how they looked.
Changes in the texture of breasts
A change in the texture can be seen both on the breast and nipple area. The sudden change in the sizes of breasts can cause stretch marks. The Montgomery tubercles on the areola develop as a result of hormones, which are sebaceous glands that become raised, bumpy, and more obvious to the eye. They produce oil to create lubrication during breastfeeding.
Changes in the color and nipple changes in pregnancy
When we are angry or embarrassed our faces go red, when we are cold our lips go blue. When we are pregnant our breasts change color. These changes are most common in the areola and the nipple. As a result of hormones, they can get darker, turn brown, or have a deep red color. Also, the veins in the breast may become more prominent as the blood supply to the breasts is increased. This can also make breasts look like they changed color.
Changes in the sensitivity of breasts
The hormonal changes during pregnancy cause the breasts to swell, and as they get bigger, they become sore and sensitive to touch. Sensitivity in breasts is one of the first signs of pregnancy.
What is the reason for these changes?
The levels of the progesterone and estrogen hormones in your body changes during pregnancy. Many of the changes in breasts you may experience are caused by these hormones, which are crucial in preparing the breasts for lactation.
Milk production and breast expansion are stimulated by prolactin. Prolactin is produced as a result of estrogen's stimulation of breast duct cell proliferation. The development and expansion of milk-producing cells within the breast glands are supported by progesterone.
What are the symptoms associated with these changes?
Breast changes are common in pregnancy, but that does not stop them from affecting your quality of life and self-esteem. They can be painful and sometimes even worrying. Breasts are not an area of our body that other people often see but nevertheless many women might feel ashamed or feel less confident upon experiencing these changes.
Changes in the appearance
As pregnancy progresses, the nipples and surrounding skin change color and become more prominent. Also, the veins in the breast may become more prominent as well as the blood supply to the breast is increased. Montgomery tubercles can become infected leading to redness, swelling, and pain and nipples may develop stretch marks. Changes like these in the breasts can cause discomfort, especially during the early stages of pregnancy.
Discharge and leakage from the nipple
Pregnancy can cause discharge from the nipple; in some cases, this discharge could look like blood. It is called rusty pipe syndrome; it is usually due to increased blood flow and the development of milk-producing glands. Rusty pipe syndrome usually disappears after birth when the baby is fed a few times. It is also normal for this discharge to be milk this leaking is called colostrum and when you are close to giving birth your breasts start producing milk for the baby.
A lump or thickening in the breast or underarm area
Lumps are usually a sign of breast cancer, but it is quite common for the pregnant woman to have lumps in the breast and underarm area. They are most likely fibroadenomas which are caused by hormonal changes you go through during pregnancy. Even though newly developed lumps during pregnancy are usually benign still it is always best for you to get them checked out.
Pain in the breast or underarm area
Breast pain is often the first symptom of pregnancy because when you are pregnant your hormones start shifting and it shows itself as breast pain. During this time both your breasts and milk ducts grow larger, these occurrences can be painful as well. Pain could be a result of an infection in mastitis, symptoms other than pain is swelling, redness, and tenderness. If they are not treated, they can turn into breast abscesses. However, they are rare and can be treated with antibiotics and a needle and syringe.
How do these changes affect breastfeeding?
Breast changes occur during pregnancy so that breasts are ready for milk production. The hormones that get your body ready for the baby are the ones that are causing these changes. Progesterone and estrogen cause swelling in the breasts also they can change the color of the breast and nipple. As a result of this when the birth is near you are ready to produce milk and feed the baby.