Shortly after conception, your breasts begin changing to prepare for feeding your baby. Stimulated by the production of estrogen and progesterone, your breasts continue to get bigger as the milk-producing glands inside them grow in size.
For many women, sore or tingling breasts are one of the early signs of pregnancy. But breast changes don’t stop here.
Additional breast changes include:
- A bluish web of veins may appear just under the skin as a result of increased blood flow.
- The small glands on the surface of the areolas, known as Montgomery’s tubercles, become raised and bumpy.
- Areolas darken and grow larger.
- Breasts may itch and develop stretch marks.
- Nipples grow darker and may begin to become more erect.
Dealing With Leaking
By weeks 12 through 14 of pregnancy, some women notice their breasts leak fluid. This fluid, known as colostrum, is no cause for alarm. In fact, this fluid provides nourishment for your baby for the first few days after birth until your breasts start to make milk. Rich in protein, colostrum contains water, minerals and antibodies that protect against disease.
Early in pregnancy, colostrum can be thick and yellow. Closer to your due date, the fluid may become pale and nearly colorless. Colostrum may leak without cause or may result from breast massage or sexual arousal.
Women who experience leaking may want to consider wearing disposable or washable breast pads.
Finding the Right Support
As your pregnancy progresses, fat builds up in the breast, making your normal bra too tight. As your breasts grow, make sure you wear a bra that fits well and doesn’t irritate your nipples. Most maternity bras feature extra rows of hooks so you can adjust the size as your body changes.
- To ease some of the discomforts associated with your changing breasts, take care while bathing. Be sure to avoid soap on your nipples and areolas to prevent your skin from drying out in this area. Instead, use just warm water.
- Call your physician if breast discharge is bloody or contains pus, which could indicate a breast abscess or infection.