Pregnancy, breastfeeding and weaning are the times when breast size and shape changes dramatically. These changes depend on your genetics, hormones, and weight fluctuations. They might be barely noticeable for some women and profound for others.
However, if you don’t see much changes in your breast within the period of your pregnancy, don’t panic. Women with all types of breast size and shape can successfully breastfeed for as long as they desire.
So let’s dive into learning what kind of breast changes you might experience in the course of pregnancy, nursing and weaning.
How Your Breast Changes During Pregnancy
You may know that changes in the breast can be one of the earliest symptoms of pregnancy. The truly amazing fact is that breast tissue starts changing to prepare for breastfeeding from the early days of childbearing.
So how soon does your breast change when pregnant and what these changes are?
1. Your boobs become really sore (the earliest sign of pregnancy)
When: before you get a missed period and find out you’re pregnant up until the end of 1st trimester.
First thing you may notice is something close to what you’re experiencing during your PMS, so many women leave this sign unnoticed. The breasts become a little swollen, sore and tender.
Wearing a bra might be extremely uncomfortable, as well as wearing coarse fabric with no bra. The nipples become extra sensitive while the areola may get larger and darker.
Sore boobs is one of the reasons women try to avoid having sex with their partner.
What can help:
Sex can actually be quite enjoyable in the 1st trimester of pregnancy with all these hormones going on (of course, if your doctor approves you to have sex). So make sure to discuss with your partner that you feel uncomfortable when he touches your breasts or nipples.
Wearing a wire-free bra with no push up could also help ease off the soreness.
2. You may notice changes in areola
When: it depends. Some women notice changes in areola in the 1st trimester, others don’t have them up until the last trimester.
The changes in size and color of areola is not the only visible thing that happens to them. You may also notice some white bumps around the skin of areola. They look like pimples and the first reaction you get is the desire to get rid of them. Hang on!
These things are called Montgomery’s tubercles. Their function is to increase the production of oil to keep the nipple moist and protect your breast skin from infections. Most importantly, they act as a scent-radar for the newborn, helping to direct the baby to the nipple.
3. You get a larger cup-size
When: closer to the 3rd trimester your breast may double in size.
Whether or not your breasts start growing in the first trimester depends on your personal physiology and genes. However, many women notice that by the end of the first trimester the bra they are wearing become really tight. For some women this may be true only close to the third trimester, which is also quite normal.
What can help:
It’s about time to start caring for your breast skin, since the more it grows the more likely you’ll be prone to having stretch marks. Using a nourishing oil right after the shower will help soothe the stretching skin.
Another tip is to start wearing a bra around the clock. Choose a bra you feel comfortable in, like this one. You may also get yourself a nice sleeping bra for extra support. Nobody’s insured against breast sagging, while pregnancy is considered one the most common cause for the problem, I wouldn’t risk it and start supporting the breast as soon as it shows the first signs of changes.
4. You may notice leaking colostrum
When: usually in the 3rd trimester or closer to labor.
Colostrum is the so-called liquid gold. The first food for newborn that is extremely rich in fat, vitamin-mineral content, antibodies, immune cells, and probiotic cultures. Your baby will need it so much to be protected against bacterial and viral infections, as well as the physiological jaundice.
Your body will start producing colostrum in pregnancy. It may become especially noticeable during the third trimester, close to the due date. You may experience leaking of colostrum (the yellowish liquid).
What can help:
If you get it quite often and it feels uncomfortable, you may start using any breast pads (good quality and breathable like this ones) to prevent wetting your bra or clothes.
5. Say hi to the blue veins
When: the blue veins become really visible starting the 2nd trimester.
You may have noticed that your breasts did not only become bigger but also more blueish, thanks to the prominent veins that showed up on your breasts (and in some other areas of your body). This happens because the blood volume during pregnancy is increased by fifty percent.
What if I have no breast changes during pregnancy?
Don’t panic. This is completely normal! As I have already mentioned, breast changes depend on your physiology and genetics. Some women experience pretty rough changes starting early pregnancy, others may not even notice any until the third trimester up to birth.
If your breast never changes within the whole period of pregnancy, there might be a little concern about the hypoplastic breasts (which has nothing to do with your ability to have a healthy pregnancy, yet the condition can compromise lactation).
The best way to find out whether you have any problems with your breasts or not is to schedule a doctor’s appointment and share your concerns with him.
However, do not panic beforehand, since only one percent of women is diagnosed with the hypoplastic breasts. On top of that, it is not a verdict for breastfeeding because with the right approach even moms with HPB can successfully breastfeed their babies.
How Your Breast Change During Breastfeeding
Surprisingly, your milk comes in long after you give birth. The first couple of days you’ll be breastfeeding your newborn with colostrum. Within two-to-four days after childbirth (up to a week if the baby was born via a c-section) your breast will become larger, heavier and fuller. This firmness is the indicator that the glandular tissue started producing milk.
Related: Top 5 Tips to Master Breastfeeding After C-Section
These breast changes should be treated with extra care. Pay attention to any aches and pains that don’t feel normal. The milk ducts may not be quite ready for the milk flow so the most common problem women may experience in the first days of nursing is clogged milk ducts.
In the first few weeks after giving birth your breast will learn to produce an adequate milk supply for the baby, so you may have some episodes of either low milk supply or engorgement.
Continue breastfeeding on demand and by the third month you will get to the point of the so-called established lactation. It means that you no longer experience uncomfortably full or engorged breasts before nursing, neither do you get episodes of low milk supply. Your body learned exactly how much milk your growing baby needs and your breast becomes soft and almost never leaks.
Related: 8 Ways to Overcome Low Milk Supply
This is not something to worry about. This change in breast tenderness doesn’t mean you’re making less milk. If your baby is growing well while you’re exclusively breastfeeding, you’re probably making just the right amount of milk to satisfy your baby’s needs for growth and development.
Your breast will stay on a larger side the whole period of breastfeeding, since the glandular tissue has grown to produce breast milk. Some milk is also stored in your breasts in between the feedings.
Keep in mind that breastfeeding should not cause any pain or discomforts. If your breast hurts, here’s a quick guide to read: 7 causes of breast pain while breastfeeding.
Do not neglect the doctor’s appointment if things doesn’t get better within 24 hours.
How Your Breast Change During Weaning
Once you stop breastfeeding (doesn’t matter whether it will be 3 months or 2 years after the baby was born) or begin to gently wean your baby from nursing, your breast will start changing all over again. As the baby eats less, your breast will produce fewer breast milk and the so-called lactation involution process will take place.
When you wean completely, you breast will get back to its normal pre-pregnancy size and shape approximately within 3-6 months. Although, there might still be a risk that your breast won’t have the same perkiness and elasticity it had preconception. It may also appear larger or smaller and softer.
Another problem you might encounter is breast sagging. Pregnancy, breastfeeding and weaning is one of the main causes of breast ptosis in women. However, if you take good care of your breast in the process, you will unlikely to get droopy boobs. Here are 12 things you can do while breastfeeding to prevent breast sagging after weaning. Advice that’s worth gold!