It is normal to notice changes in your breast almost immediately after conceiving, often even before you know that you are pregnant. These changes are caused by an increase in hormones, estrogen and progesterone. You will be able to observe these changes:
- Tenderness or a change in sensation of the nipple and breast.
- An increase in breast size.
- Changes in the colour and size of nipples and areola.
- Bigger and more noticeable Montgomery glands, those dots around the nipple which are a combination of milk glands and sebaceous glands.
How soon do you notice breast changes in pregnancy?
Breast tenderness is often one of the earliest symptoms of pregnancy. You might be able to note soreness, heaviness, or tingling as early as 1–2 weeks after conception. What is happening that causes this? Your pregnancy hormones cause normal breast tissue to change into milk-producing tissue. Your nipples may stick out more than usual and your bra might feel tight.
First-trimester changes in breasts
(weeks 1 to 13):
- You notice heaviness and soreness in breasts.
- Your nipples may become more prominent.
- In some cases, they may get bigger.
- The areolas or colored circles around the nipples can become larger and darker because of hormonal changes.
Second-trimester changes in breasts
(weeks 14 to 27):
- Several women report that their breasts are larger and heavier.
- The tenderness from early pregnancy will go away, though.
- The veins on your breasts might start looking darker. Some women get stretch marks on their breasts. Blood volume typically increases by 50% in pregnancy which is the reason behind these veins.
- These veins are necessary to carry the increasing volumes of blood and nutrients around the body to the developing foetus.
- Small bumps may appear on the areola. These are oil-producing glands called Montgomery’s tubercles, and they lubricate the breasts and promote easier breastfeeding. (areola) becomes darker and larger.
- You may notice a yellowish discharge, called colostrum, from your nipples as early as the 16th to 19th week. Colostrum is the "pre-milk" that gives baby immunity. Not all women report this.
Third-trimester changes in breasts
(Week 28 to birth):
- Your breasts will grow some more and may feel even heavier.
- If you haven't had colostrum leaking from your breasts before, it may start to happen now. But some women experience this. Don’t worry - it is not related to your breastfeeding success in any way.
Can I go braless during pregnancy?
Overall, it is not advisable to skip wearing a bra during pregnancy because the breasts will sag after childbirth.
Please don’t wear bras that are uncomfortable or bras with wires that could inhibit blood flow and hamper breastmilk production, which begins well before your baby arrives.
Several women choose to sleep in their bra in the later stages of pregnancy because it helps to reduce the discomfort in the breasts and back pain because of the weight of the breasts.
How can I ease breast pain and discomfort during pregnancy?
BRA: Replacing your bra is a good first step. To begin with, buy a sleep bra that has wide straps and a soft cotton lining.
A sports bra that is a size bigger than your usual bra size is good for support. It is firm but does not pinch like an underwired bra might.
By 16 weeks, your breasts prepare for lactation and go through many changes. This is a great time to invest in a maternity bra. As your breasts change, you don’t want to put too much pressure on them with an ill-fitting bra. How to find the right bra? Here are some tips:
- The cup should fit snugly. It should not leave out portions of the breast or hang loose.
- The strap at the back should fit well but not dig in.
- The shoulder straps should be wide.
- The strap round the back and the front underband lie close to your body should be at the same level at the front and back.
- There shouldn’t be underwires.
Don’t buy too many bras all at once - some women need to change their size each trimester.
EXERCISE and YOGA: Follow an exercise regimen and have a healthy diet. Gentle stretching activities for your upper body, including yoga asanas and mudras are helpful. Arm stretches could help provide strength to the breast muscles and may reduce breast pain. Fish Pose or Matsyasana stretches and strengthens the interior muscles of the shoulder and relaxes the breasts. Warrior Pose or Virabhadrasana facilitates lymphatic drainage when arms are lifted at a higher angle above the shoulders.
How can I remove stretch marks from my breasts?
Firstly, across a number of studies, it has been proven that most products out there will not help you. The marks lighten over time but don’t go away. You can try some home remedies for lightening the marks:
- Remove the outer layer of the aloe vera plant and scoop out the gel.
- Mix 2 tbsp of coconut oil with 2 tbsp of aloe vera gel.
- Apply it to the affected area and let it be for 20-40 minutes.
- Rinse it with water.
Raw Potato Juice
- Grate a potato.
- Press with a spoon and take out the juice.
- Apply on the marks and rinse with cold water after 30 minutes.
- Repeat the process regularly for faster results.
Tea Tree Oil
- Mix a few drops of tea tree oil with a little coconut oil.
- Gently massage the oil gently all over your stretch marks.
- Apply it and keep it overnight before washing your face with water the next day.
Is it normal to have blood from your nipple?
A few women may have occasional leakage of blood from the nipple. This is due to an increase in the number and size of blood vessels. Although this can be normal during pregnancy, it’s best to get any leakage of blood from the nipple checked by your doctor.
Why is my breast itchy in pregnancy?
As your breasts grow, itchiness, stretch marks, and skin sensitivity are normal side-effects. What has happened is that your skin’s elasticity has been stretched to accommodate your expanding milk ducts. To manage the itchiness, you can try these remedies (avoid chemical-based creams):
- Put an ice pack or a cool, wet compress on itchy areas for a few minutes for immediate relief.
- Take an occasional warm oatmeal bath. The kind you put in your bath water isn’t the same type that you eat for breakfast. It’s called colloidal oatmeal. Just make a powder of the oatmeal you usually use to eat. Mix half a cup in your bathwater.
- Apply warm coconut oil. The essence of lauric acid in coconut oil works as an effective anti-inflammatory agent that helps in calming the itchy skin.
- A paste of besan (gram flour) in cold milk applied to the area also helps.
Is breast massage during pregnancy helpful?
Ayurveda highly recommends abhyanga, or a ‘self-massage’ to give your mind and body calmness. This self-massage is good for breasts, too. You can use warm coconut oil or see a Vaid who can give an oil that is suited for your doshic constitution.
Here are the simple steps to follow:
- Ayurveda is a holistic study so take time to align your mind. Clasp your hands at your heart and spend some moments in gratitude.
- Open your hands over your heart and breasts. Your hands are not just hands - as they work, they send the energy to heal.
- Practice letting-go as you play some calming music.
- Place four fingers on the top and bottom of one breast. Apply light pressure while moving the fingers of both hands in circular motions. Position the fingers on each side of the same breast and continue to massage in a circular pattern. Repeat on the other breast.
- Don’t put too much pressure on them.
- If you feel pain during massaging stop doing it immediately.
- Try not to massage the nipple or put any pressure on them; it could lead to nipple stimulation and early labour too.