As the rest of your body changes during pregnancy, your breasts change too. They are getting ready to make and supply milk for your baby.
In the first trimester (weeks 1 to 13):
- Your breasts may start to feel swollen and tender.
- Your nipples may stick out more than usual.
- Some women find that their breasts start to get bigger during this time.
In the second trimester (weeks 14 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 breast tenderness from early pregnancy.
- The veins in your breasts become more noticeable under the skin. Some women get stretch marks on their breasts.
- 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.
- You may notice a yellowish discharge, called colostrum, from your nipples as early as the 16th to 19th week. This just means that your breasts are getting ready for breastfeeding. Colostrum is the "pre-milk" that helps protect your baby from disease during the first few days of breastfeeding.
In the third trimester (week 28 to birth):
- 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 breastfeed.
What can you do to feel better?
As a natural part of pregnancy, your breasts will get bigger and may be sore sometimes. They also may leak colostrum, especially later in pregnancy. If these changes bother you, here are some ideas you can try.
- If your breasts are tender or sore, 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.
They 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.
Soap can dry out the skin. Just use warm water.
- Use breast pads inside your bra to soak up leaks.
Some breast pads are washable. You can also buy the kind that you use once and throw away.
- A few times a day, including after your shower, let your breasts air-dry for a few minutes.
Current as of: February 23, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine