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Health & Pregnancy

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Breast Changes During Pregnancy - Topic Overview

As the rest of your body changes during pregnancy, your breasts change too, getting themselves ready to make and supply milk for your baby.

Your breasts will get bigger. They may be sore sometimes. Your nipples may change color. It's all a natural part of being pregnant. And if some of these changes bother you, it's good to know that there are ways to help yourself feel better.

What changes happen in each trimester?

First trimester

During your first trimester (weeks 1 to 12), your breasts may start to feel swollen and tender. They may tingle. Your nipples may stick out more than usual.

Some women find that their breasts start to get bigger during this time.

Second trimester

In the second trimester (weeks 13 to 27), your breasts will get larger and heavier. You may need a larger bra that gives you more support. You will probably feel less of the tenderness and tingling from early pregnancy.

As your breasts grow, the veins become more noticeable under the skin. The nipples and the area around the nipples (areola) become darker and larger. Small bumps may appear on the areola. These bumps will go away after you have your baby.

Some women get stretch marks on their breasts.

As early as the 16th to 19th week, you may notice a yellowish discharge, called colostrum, from your nipples. This just means that your breasts are getting ready for breast-feeding. Colostrum is the "pre-milk" that helps protect your baby from disease during the first few days of breast-feeding.

Third trimester

In the third trimester, your breasts will grow some more and may feel even heavier. You may need a larger bra or a bra extender.

If you haven't had colostrum leaking from your breasts before, it may start to happen now. But some women don't have leaks. Either way, it has nothing to do with your ability to breast-feed.

What can you do to feel better?

Here are some tips you can try.

If your breasts are tender or sore:

  • During the day, wear a bra that gives you good support in the back and on the sides. Padded shoulder straps can help. You may find that bras made from cotton are more comfortable.
  • At night, try a sleep bra. These are soft, lighter bras that will still give you a little support as you sleep. Again, cotton may be more comfortable.
  • Don't wash the area around your nipples with soap. It can dry out the skin. You can clean the area with just warm water.
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