So even before you gaze down at those two pink lines of a positive pregnancy test, you may often experience sore, tender breasts. And oh they can hurt! That surge of hormones can happen quickly and your breast tissue usually takes the first beating in dealing with it.
But your breast change during pregnancy is not always so uncomfortable. I started having one of these symptoms this week and it got me adding it to the list–something that I bet you NEVER would have thought you’d feel before giving birth.
Breast Change During Pregnancy – The Causes
Always the easy answer: hormones. Your estrogen, progesterone, and HCG hormone levels start to climb within a few weeks of conception (see a neat graph of them here). This causes nearly all of your breast changes, enjoyable and uncomfortable.
You’re body starts generating more blood volume throughout your entire body, so your veins and blood pressure changes contribute too.
Affects on the skin contribute in a few ways as well. Your skin may lose moisture, start needing to stretch, etc.
Symptoms You May or May Not Directly See
Many things your breasts will undergo as clearly visible when you look at yourself in the mirror. Other changes are only how they will feel, or sensations you’ll experience.
Even your nipples are taken along for the ride and aren’t left out in both ways.
- Soreness – As I already mentioned, this is usually the first sign of pregnancy for first time mothers. You’ll have a constant ache throughout your breasts that can last for weeks, until your second trimester. Some women have it throughout their entire pregnancy and with each successive pregnancy; most do not. I only had achey breasts the first time around.
- Sometimes it’s also a tingly feeling, as if they’re swelling, or just being really sensitive to the touch.
- Size – Some women enjoy the fact that their breasts literally grow, sometimes up to two cup sizes! Some do not enjoy this because of everything that comes along with it. During the first few months, your breasts will naturally enlarge, causing your bra to often be too small. But this isn’t consistent across pregnancies. Mothers usually have less and less dramatic differences the more children they have. I’m on my third one and I still am wearing my same bras. But they do feel a little fuller lately.
- This can lead to dryer itchier skin because it’s become more stretched, let alone stretch marks from such a quick increase. But these are much less common. I don’t get stretch marks on my breasts.
- Veins – Because of such an increase in blood flow to your breast tissue, it’s MUCH easier to see your veins running across your chest and breasts. Even if you naturally have darker skin or have never been able to see them before, suddenly your veins become spider webs all over you. I always see this until after I’m a few months post partum.
- Nipples – Many things happen to your nipples, beyond being truly sore too.Color changes happen rather quickly and in almost all pregnancies. Your areola (the darker skin around your nipple) will darken to nearly purple. Yep.
- Bigger areolas seem to grow outwards of your nipple almost overnight. I don’t think I’ve seen this much with myself, but it definitely happens to many.
- Bumpier skin texture in your areola is more noticeable. These are glands in your skin that become more pronounced, getting ready for nursing. This hasn’t been very common with me either.
- Leaking – But it’s not milk that comes out, it’s colostrum. This thick, yellowish substance (like honey) is SUPER rich in protein and nutrients and is a pre-curser to your milk that won’t come in until a few days after you baby is born. Most women don’t have this, but it’s good to know so you don’t become worried if you see it towards the end of your pregnancy. I’ve never had colostrum leak before.
- Let-Down – Now when I say let-down, I mean in reference to breast feeding. Let-down occurs when your hormones stimulate your milk ducts to release the milk they’ve collected, allowing it to flow down to the nipple in order for baby to suckle it out. When let-down happens, you feel a sudden swelling, tingling, pressure in your breasts that peaks and releases. It’s a lot more prominent when you have milk there. But I’ve noticed that it also happens during pregnancy. Of course there’s no milk in there right now, just colostrum. I have yet to read about this as a common breast change during pregnancy, but I know it happens to me.
As I was away from my family this week, I noticed how let-down started happening to me. I would see a young child or baby that would garner that motherly love in me and I’d think about my boys, thus triggering a let-down. It happened quite often and is more prominent when I’m away from my children. I never noticed this with my first pregnancy, but I started to with my second after fully experiencing what the let-down feeling is.
What You Can Do To Relieve The Discomfort
As time goes on, things are more bearable. With each pregnancy too, there’s hardly noticeable changes throughout really because your body has become accustomed to it. But for the first time there are a few things you can to help ease your sore breasts.
|Size||Time to go shopping for the next size up. Keep in mind that you may have to increase more than one cup size. Your ribs will expand too, thus needing a larger band around your back.|
|Veins||Not much you can do about this at all. But it’s not a discomfort in the first place, really. Just neat to look at if you’re into anatomy and physiology.|
|Nipples||These changes don’t cause discomfort either. But not washing them with soap helps to keep the natural oils in place for more supple skin and areola.|
|Dry/Itch/StretchMarks||Moisturize, moisturize. I recommend body butters with oatmeal and shea, like in this pampering kit.|
|Leaking||The colostrum is so thick that having a breast pad there may just make things stickier. But simply cleaning with warm water regularly can keep your nipples clean.|
|Let-Down||You’d have to stop thinking about your baby and children almost completely, maybe even quick having sex, to remedy this symptom. But it’s not a worry to have it happen in the first place.|
In the end, it’s just the achy soreness that is the only major problem that you’ll want to deal with. Take the time to relax, have your bath and just let the warmth pour over your chest and you’ll find quick relief in no time.