Pregnancy is the time where a women’s body goes through myriad physical changes. Apart from the expanding belly and weight gain, the body part that undergoes the most changes are the breasts. Hormone oestrogen is responsible for breast development and enlargement during pregnancy, which is normal as your body gets ready for lactation. Knowing about the changes that occur in the breasts during pregnancy will make these signs easier to manage.
- Breasts become big and heavy: During pregnancy, your breasts expand. The amount of fatty tissue and blood flow to your breasts increases in order to help the milk ducts and mammary glands grow. Usually, the breasts will start to look larger around the six to eight weeks of pregnancy. Typical breast size growth in pregnant women is around a one-to-two cup sizes. As the breast size changes, you may feel some discomfort such as itchiness, stretch marks and so on.
- Visible pigments and veins: Blood volume increases around 50 percent during pregnancy and increased blood flow to the breasts results in visible veins. If you have light skin, vein visibility to stand out more. Usually, this fades after delivery. Dark pigmentation will be also seen around the areolas, which will also increase in size.
- Sore Breasts: Rapidly increasing levels of the oestrogen and progesterone are thought to be the prime reason for the soreness of breasts which is usually seen during pregnancy. For some women, one of the first signs of being pregnant is sore breasts, which may get ease off to a more manageable level or get diminished after the first trimester.
- Nipple changes: Pregnant women may notice changes such as darkened nipples and increased nipple size.
- Areola bumps and lumps: It’s common to see certain bumps and lumps over your areolas and breasts when you are pregnant. The bumps, called “Montgomery’s tubercles,” are just an oil producing glands caused by the production of milk. They help sterilize the nipples during breastfeeding. Common causes of such lumps include fibroadenomas (fibrous tissue), and galactoceles (cysts filled with milk).
- Leakage: After the first trimester of pregnancy, it’s common that your breasts will start to produce milk. Some women experience leaking of this milk in the form of a yellowish substance called colostrum.
These breast changes are common and there is nothing to worry. Knowing about the changes and taking certain steps can make them easier to manage:
- Wear a well-fitting maternity bra to avoid sagging in future
- Moisturize breast skin well to avoid itchiness that may happen due to the stretching of skin
- Eat healthy
- Massaging the breast tissue can alleviate some of the discomfort and help alleviate potential sagging.
Regular breast checks during pregnancy can promote breast health. If you feel or notice anything unusual, consult your doctor immediately.