Your Breasts During Pregnancy
One of the first signs of your body changing that you may notice, even before your pregnancy is confirmed, is breast tenderness and swelling.
It is perfectly normal for your breasts to feel strange when you are pregnant due to the effects of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone.
You’ll probably notice various changes to your breasts from an early stage of your pregnancy as your mammary glands start to prepare for breast-feeding. These may include:
- increased sensitivity
- soreness and tenderness
This can occur shortly after the egg has implanted in your uterus and can feel like pronounced pre-menstrual syndrome. The two hormones, oestrogen and HPL, are responsible for the development of milk glands, and HPL also causes enlargement of your breasts.
If you have always been small on top you may be thrilled by your new voluptuousness, however, if you were already well-endowed you may want to invest in a well-fitting support bra from the start to help reduce sagging and discomfort in the breast area. Some women may find it more comfortable to wear a bra at night, as well.
At some stage during the pregnancy, your nipples will become bigger (due to the effects of oestrogen) and more sensitive and protrude more. You may also experience a tingling sensation and find that the veins over your breasts have become larger and more obvious as the blood supply to your breasts increases. Stretchmarks will probably also start to appear.
The skin surrounding your nipples (the areola) may become darker and small glands called Montgomery glands or tubercles appear which produce a natural oily substance that keeps the nipples soft and flexible, preparing them for breast-feeding. These changes are usually more noticeable in your first pregnancy than in subsequent ones.
Your nipple area will continue to darken in the second trimester and your breasts and nipples will also carry on growing. Your breasts will probably still feel sore and tingly, with the surface veins becoming even more noticeable. You may also find that they begin to leak colostrum towards the end of the second trimester. This milky yellow fluid is known as first milk and is less rich than breast milk, although it will benefit your baby in the first few days after birth.
If your breasts are leaking a lot you may want to insert absorbent breast pads into your bra. If you suffer from sore nipples it may help to gently apply soothing creams or oils to the nipples. If at any stage you notice any bloodstained discharge from your nipples, contact your antenatal care pregnancy healthcare professional.