Pregnancy triggers the final stage of breast development. What changes to your breasts can you expect?
Painting the nursery, buying a crib and baby-proofing your home may be part of preparations for your latest addition to the family. Your body, including your breasts, also prepares for your baby in different ways. Some changes may seem odd or cause discomfort, but they are all normal parts of pregnancy.
Growth and Swelling
During the first trimester, pregnancy hormones may cause your breasts to grow or swell several sizes. Hypersensitivity can also occur. Breast growth can continue throughout the course of the pregnancy, although tenderness typically goes away after the first trimester.
Invest in a high-quality, supportive bra to reduce discomfort. Look for a bra with:
• Good support
• Wide band beneath the cups
• Wide shoulder straps
• A back-closure, adjustable style that provides more flexibility than a front-fastening bra
As your breasts grow, the skin will also stretch. This can cause dry, itchy skin that is easily remedied with moisture-rich creams or cocoa butter.
Lumps and Bumps
Conducting a breast self-exam once a month is important for your health, even during pregnancy. However, changes to your breasts during pregnancy can make these exams more difficult as you may find lumps that are actually clogged milk ducts. These red, hard, tender lumps can be painful, but typically go away after a few days of applying warm compresses. If you have any concerns or questions about a new breast lump, talk with your physician. You may also notice raised bumps along your areolas. Known as Montgomery’s tubercles, these bumps are glands that are always present but can become swollen during pregnancy.
An increased blood supply to your breasts during pregnancy means that veins along your breast may get darker. Pregnancy hormones can also affect the color of your nipples and areolas.
You may start leaking a yellowish, thick substance called colostrum during the third trimester. A precursor to breast milk, colostrum is packed with protein and has less fat and sugar than breast milk for easier digestion for newborns. Wearing nursing pads in your bra can prevent leaking through to clothes or staining.
This article was reviewed by Jamie Cooper, D.O., F.A.C.O.G., OB/GYN with St.Vincent Medical Group.