Breast Changes During Pregnancy

8 min read

Written by Editorial Team

Editorial Team

Breast changes during pregnancy
Pregnancy is a whirlwind of changes that happen emotionally, physically, and mentally. Out of the many symptoms that indicate pregnancy, the obvious one is breast pain. This experience happens much before even a positive pregnancy test. Apart from this, many other breast changes during pregnancy are common.

Pregnancy not only creates a new life in the womb but also tunes the body to nurture the growth of a new life. It also helps in providing nourishment post the delivery of the baby. Many physical and hormonal changes happen in the body of the mother to accommodate these needs. Breast changes are just one of the most discomforting ones and indicate the preparation to feed the baby, once born.

In This Article

Why do Breast Changes Take Place During Pregnancy?

Breast changes are of the many changes that take place in pregnancy. These are quite discomforting ones. Let us study the reason behind the same:

  • The breast changes in pregnancy take place due to surging hormones.
  • The breast tissue changes and starts preparing for breastfeeding as the hormones estrogen, progesterone and prolactin boost the blood flow.
  • Due to this, the breasts feel sore, swollen, extremely sensitive and tingly.
  • Breast changes can be painful for some women.
    These changes can be uncomfortable and oftentimes are similar to the breast changes and pain that occur before the menstrual cycle.

Top 5 Common Breast Changes in Pregnancy

Why Breast Changes During Pregnancy

The breasts change in many ways to prepare the body to nurse the baby after birth. It is important to understand the changes that happen in the breast during pregnancy. This will prepare the would-be mother for what is to come ahead, and she will not panic at normal changes. If it is something uncommon, she can take medical consultation.

Let us take a look at some common breast changes in pregnancy.

1. Breast Growth

The breasts start becoming bigger and grow to one or two cup sizes around 6-8 weeks. The cup size becomes bigger if it is the first baby. It even itches due to the stretching of the skin, resulting in stretch marks.

[Read: Bigger Breasts During Pregnancy]

2. Bumps on the Areolas

The mother experiences small bumps on the areola which become more visible. Montgomery’s tubercles are tiny oil-producing glands.

3. Veins and Pigment Changes

After a few months, veins start to appear under the skin of the breast. The areola becomes big as well as dark in colour.

4. Leaky Breasts

The breasts produce immunity booster milk for the baby. Yellow milk or colostrum is the first milk that the baby gets after birth. This milk is vital for the baby as it has all the nutrients and antibodies which make the baby’s immune system stronger. At the last leg or third trimester, it is common to see a little leakage of this yellow substance for a few mothers.

[Read : Leaking Breasts During Pregnancy]

5. Lumpy Breasts

Bumps can even develop for a few pregnant women in their breasts. Though harmless in nature, these bumps can sometimes turn into milk filling cysts or tumours at times. It is always a good idea to inform the doctor even though the tumours are not serious. In case they are hard and persistently occurring, it can be a cause of concern.

Breast Changes in Each Trimester

The first and foremost signs of pregnancy are sore nipples and breast tenderness. All this is due to the pregnancy hormones – estrogen progesterone that surges at this time. Here above, we have discussed the breast changes that happen during pregnancy. Yet it is important to know when these changes happen. Pregnancy has three legs or trimesters. It will be interesting to know and prepare oneself for the changes that take place in each semester.

1. First Trimester Breast Changes

First trimester

The first trimester comprises the first three months of pregnancy, the initial changes are not too many, but they take place slowly and gradually. The four-week wise segregation is 1 to 3 weeks, 4 to 6 weeks, 7 to 9 weeks, and 10-12 weeks.

The Changes Week-Wise

Let us take a lot at the week-wise chronological changes that take place during the first trimester of pregnancy.

a) First to The Third Week

To meet the developing needs of the foetus, the blood volume of the body increases, and the changes are

  • The milk ducts start as well as alveolar buds develop in the first week.
  • The breast changes are at the peak as the fertilization of the egg implants in the uterus in the second week.

b) Fourth to Sixth Week

  • The veins under the breast become large, more visible and bluer in colour.
  • The tingling sensation around the nipples is due to the increase in blood supply. This can even lead to fluctuation of body temperature.
  • The nipples become sensitive and large in size and areolas become dark.
  • The breast becomes full due to estrogen, progesterone and placental lactogen.
  • Milk ducts even swell as they prepare for lactation.

c) Seventh to Ninth Week

  • This is the time when the mother puts on weight.
  • Breast size increases as the pregnancy hormones accelerate the growth of milk ducts.
  • Fat also starts to accumulate at this time due to the growth of milk ducts.
  • Small painless bumps develop that help in breastfeeding.
  • By the eighth week, oil-producing glands also known as Montgomery’s tubercles develop as well.
  • Blood vessels appear below the skin in eight weeks.
  • By the ninth week, areolas become dark with a round of light colour tissue.

d) Tenth to Twelfth Week

  • Small pimples start forming around the nipples.
  • The tenderness of the breast increases.
  • Nipples start protruding in the first week in case of first pregnancy.
  • Changes in the second trimester.

2. Second Trimester Breast Changes

Second trimester

During the second trimester, the breasts increase in size and get heavier. This trimester ranges from 13th to- 28th week. The changes during this period are:

Thirteenth to Twenty Seventh Week

  • The level of estrogen keeps rising.
  • By the 15th week the milk-producing cells become active.
  • The body reabsorbs the milk which it produces in week 22.
  • This is the time when the breast starts producing colostrum in the initial weeks.
  • The breast feels fuller or heavier due to the growth of the milk ducts.
  • It can also lead to leakage of colostrum for some women.
  • This is also the time when a large bra might be a necessity as the cup size increases at this time.
  • The Montgomery glands become more visible.
  • Researchers believe that the oil produced by the glands offers protection against infection and soreness while breastfeeding.

3. Third Trimester Breast Changes

Third trimester

The heaviness and the soreness start increasing again at this time. The trimester ranges from 29th week – 40 weeks. The body is almost ready and not too many changes happen in the breast.

Let us see the few changes at this period.

Twenty-Ninth to the Fortieth Week

  • The breast continues to grow bigger and heavier as the delivery time nears.
  • This is the time to look for supportive maternity or a large size bra.
  • Sleep bra at bed is a good idea to avoid any discomfort.
  • Not only the cup size, but the band size also increases as well as the rib cage starts expanding.
  • Nipples as well as areolas become dark and become very prominent.
  • There is a feeling of itchiness and dryness on the skin as it stretches.
  • Colostrum leakage can happen at this time or even earlier.
  • The milk is ready by the end of this trimester or before the baby is born.

Easy Tips For Relieving Breast Pain During Pregnancy

Tips for relieving breast pain

Avoiding the pain or discomfort of breast changes during pregnancy is not possible but there are ways to make it bearable. A few ways that help in relieving breast pain are given as under.

1. Wear a Maternity Bra

It is important to wear a maternity bra when one feels uncomfortable by the changing shape of the breast. Wearing well-fitting bras is good as it offers support to the breasts. In order to avoid the tenderness of the breast, it is best to keep adjusting the bras to the changes in the breast size.

[Read : Best Bra During Pregnancy]

2. Say No to Underwired Bras

Underwired bras during pregnancy are not suitable as they can obstruct blood flow and milk production. The researchers, however, do not hold this true. Most women find underwired bras very uncomfortable for sore breasts.

3. Moisturise

Keeping the skin moisturised helps in getting rid of the itchy breast. The skin needs nourishment as the skin keeps stretching over the growing breast. Nourishment makes the skin soft and supple. Cotton is the best choice- Cotton fabric protects the skin against infections and irritation as it is a breathable one. This soft fabric also helps in absorbing sweat and keeps the skin dry as well as clean. Choosing a cotton bra offers relief from any discomfort.

4. Try Not to Collide into People and Things

It is painful to get hurt by colliding with things and people. The breast at this time is so soft and tender that even a gentle touch can be painful.

5. Use a Warm Compress

Keeping a warm and wet towel for covering the breast helps to relieve the breast pain. It also reduces tenderness and swelling and even boosts blood circulation.

6. Stay Hydrated

Water retention is also the reason for sore breasts. Drinking plenty of water helps to avoid discomfort. It also flushes the toxins, excess hormones or fluid that leads to pain.

7. Have Flax seeds

Fluids like water, yoghurt or juices can be replaced by one spoon of flaxseeds. The ground flaxseeds are fibre-rich and help in relieving the soreness of the breasts.

8. Reduce Salt Intake

Women who reduce their salt intake on a temporary basis experience less breast pain during pregnancy.

9. Proper Nutrition and Diet

A healthy body fights infections in a better manner. It can even handle the pain easily. Consuming vitamins and mineral-rich foods can be quite helpful. Foods like cereals, green leafy vegetables, seeds, nuts and cereals help as well.

Breast Exams – When Should You Consider Seeing a Doctor?

When to consult doctor breast changes

Breast discomfort during pregnancy is a normal and passing phase, just like the other symptoms. It is still important to watch the changes and consult a doctor in case the below symptoms show up.

  • Any changes in the lumps or increasing number of lumps.
  • Discharge of blood with the yellow substance from the breasts.
  • Any discomforting rashes.

All the hormonal changes during pregnancy help in preparing the breast for lactation. The breasts become denser and heavier, and the nipples darken as well. All these are normal and positive signs which indicate the body’s readiness for milk production. But any discomfort, pain, leakage of blood and temperature fluctuation is a cause of concern.


1. What Does a Tumour in the Breast Feel Like?

The tumours in the breast are rigid like rocks. It has angular edges and is not as smooth as a cyst.

2. Which Area of Breast is Cancer Seen?

Breast cancer appears near the chest wall, armpit area or the upper outer section of the breast. This is the place where there is more breast tissue.

3.  Do Nipples Shrink After Pregnancy?

The nipples become fuller as they prepare for nursing. The milk-producing glands and the breast tissue become large.  Nipples come back to their original size once the women stop breastfeeding.

Read Also: Soothe Itchy Breast During Pregnancy With Easy Tips

Editorial Team,

With a rich experience in pregnancy and parenting, our team of experts create insightful, well-curated, and easy-to-read content for our to-be-parents and parents at all stages of parenting.Read more.

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