Preparing for Many Months of Many Changes
During pregnancy, your body will go through an amazing amount of changes, from the time of conception right through to the birth of your baby—and beyond! Although your breasts might start to feel like an entity all their own, the changes they go through are normal and are helping your body care for and prepare for your baby.
When the Tenderness Kicks In
Breast sensitivity is often one of the earliest signs of pregnancy. It’s caused by your changing hormones, specifically, progesterone and estrogen. You may begin to notice your breasts becoming tender around weeks four to seven. This soreness may continue throughout your first trimester, but ease off as your hormones balance. A supportive bra may help relieve the discomfort, and you might even decide to wear one while you’re sleeping. If you find underwire uncomfortable, try a cotton bra instead. Cool compresses or a warm bath may also give your breasts with some relief. It’s also important for your partner to understand how to touch you gently and to even be careful when hugging you.
Your breasts go through many changes during your pregnancy, and tenderness is just one of them. During the first few weeks of pregnancy, you may find your nipples standing out more than usual and that they are another source of tenderness. The area around your nipples, the areolas, may begin to change in color. It’s not uncommon for them to become darker in addition to becoming larger. This color may persist after childbirth or may return to your pre-pregnant appearance. You also may notice an increase in the number of veins that show below the surface of the skin on your breasts. This is no cause for alarm; on the contrary, these veins are carrying nutrients to your baby.
You can expect your breasts to increase in size during your pregnancy. Growth can begin as early as your first trimester and may continue into your final trimester. This is a result of increased fat stores; later, they’re larger because they’re producing milk. The changing size of your breasts may result in stretch marks. The growth can also cause your skin to become itchy. Using lotion may help alleviate the itch.
During your third trimester, your breasts may begin to leak colostrum, which is the nutrient-rich first milk your body produces. It’s a pale yellow color. You can begin using breast pads to keep your clothing dry during leaks.