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    Breast Changes During Pregnancy: Your Step-By-Step Guide

    Published 15 November 2019
    Fact Checked
    Reviewed by Irina Ilyich, Flo lead medical advisor, Lithuania
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    Breast changes during pregnancy are incredibly common. For many people, they’re one of the first indications that they’re pregnant! Understanding these changes and knowing how to handle them will prove immensely during pregnancy.

    Breast changes and early signs of pregnancy

    Even before a positive pregnancy test, many women report breast changes as the first indication that they might be pregnant. Because breast changes are also common before or during a period, it can be hard to distinguish between the two, particularly for someone who’s trying to get pregnant or who really doesn’t want to be pregnant.

    Breast changes in early pregnancy are the result of an increase in progesterone levels, as well as the initial stages of milk duct growth. Breast sensations may change, as tingling and soreness, usually around the nipples, increases. The breasts may also get larger, while both the nipples and areola become larger and darker.

    How your breast changes during pregnancy

    There is no definitive way to categorize breast changes during pregnancy according to trimester or week of pregnancy. For most, it makes more sense to classify breast changes during early pregnancy and breast changes in late pregnancy. Even within these classifications, it’s wise to remember that each body is different and typical changes for one person may occur in a different trimester than typical changes for another person.

    Major breast changes during pregnancy

    While some changes to breasts during pregnancy can be related to weight gain, the majority of breast change and growth is related to milk production. As soon as pregnancy occurs, the breasts begin preparing for breastfeeding. Breast changes during pregnancy are caused by the fluctuations of the hormones progesterone, prolactin, and estrogen. Typical breast changes during early pregnancy may include:

    • Tenderness and/or change in breast or nipple sensations
    • Changes in color or size of the nipples or areolas
    • An increase in breast size
    • Larger Montgomery glands (sebaceous glands on the areola)

    As you move further into your second trimester, you may notice a small amount of straw-colored fluid leaking from your nipples. This fluid is called colostrum and is completely normal. It’s what the body produces before milk comes in after delivery. If colostrum is not present at this time, that’s okay too. It may show up later, or you may not notice it until after birth.

    Breast changes during pregnancy are caused by the fluctuations of the hormones progesterone, prolactin, and estrogen.

    If you find that your breasts are leaking enough to be noticeable on your clothes, breast pads can help. There are both disposable and washable options that fit inside of your bra. Both will likely prove helpful post-pregnancy as well.

    Breast changes during late pregnancy typically follow the same pattern as breast changes in early pregnancy. Your nipples may continue to grow larger and your breasts may continue to grow in size. If present, colostrum may continue to leak, potentially increasing in volume.

    Discomfort and pain are common complaints as breasts grow and change. A well-fitting bra is extremely important for staying comfortable. You may find that you need to buy multiple bras throughout your pregnancy as your breasts change in size. Additional ways to ease breast discomfort are discussed below. 

    Other breast changes to be aware of

    It is not uncommon to develop breast lumps during pregnancy. Though the presence of a lump is always alarming, it isn’t necessarily something to be worried about. These are the most common causes of breast