Breast changes during pregnancy have to be some of the most dramatic. Many women don’t realize that this is possible, which is why it’s so important to educate oneself about what’s happening with your breasts while you’re pregnant.
Breast tissue expands during pregnancy to support the growing fetus and its growing mother.
Like many changes during pregnancy, these breast changes aren’t always normal. For example, you may notice your breast look bigger, feel softer, or bleed more easily during pregnancy. But there are also different types of breast changes that are totally normal and can be treated.
Signs of breasts changes that show you’re a pregnant
Along with expanding, the skin of your breasts becomes thinner and changes color, Dr. Anne Hughes, M.D., medical director of the Breast Center at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City, tells SELF. If you notice the skin of your breasts becomes pale or grayish, that’s a sign that you’re pregnant and hormone changes are to be blamed.
What are the changes in the breast during pregnancy?
Breast changes can begin very early during pregnancy. Women usually notice the breast first during the 3rd trimester of pregnancy.
On the other hand, there are also many symptoms of breast changes like lumpy breast, redness, hair loss, thickening, etc., during the first month of pregnancy.
Lumpy breast is a common symptom during the first trimester. This breast change usually disappears in a few weeks. In most women, this breast change is temporary and not to worry.
Also, this breast change is quite common and can be treated. Breast Changes can last from 3 to 6 months after delivery. If the breast changes are severe, then you should consult your gynecologist.
Some Changes in breast during pregnancy
- Tenderness, increased blood flow, an enlargement of the breasts, and even change in shape.
- A change in the size and shape of the breasts.
- A dark line or pigment in the skin around the nipple.
They may appear red, orange, or dark purple and often appear as a brown or red band across the area of skin between the nipple and the areola (area where the nipple is attached to the breast).
This is a major symptom for a lot of women. Ducting nipples occurs because of a deficiency of estrogen in the body. So if you have this, you should check your breast often and consume adequate amount of estrogen. The other reason for ducting nipples is polycystic ovaries.
Over-magnification of breasts
This is the most common condition which is seen in women during pregnancy. The breast changes during pregnancy are caused by the excess blood flow in the breasts.
Skin tags are small, soft, swollen, fleshy structures under the nipple and under the areola. They are of various types and they are harmless.
There could be an unpleasant discharge from your nipple like milk. It happens when you have a milk flow from your breasts.
Does breast cancer occur during pregnancy?
In some cases, breast changes can be mistaken for more severe symptoms of breast cancer. During pregnancy, there are signs to look out for that may indicate breast cancer:
Hair growth in the breasts
If you notice your nipples are getting darker than usual then you need to make an appointment with your gynecologist. This could be a sign of breast cancer.
Yellowish skin around the nipple
- A white or off-white patch of skin on the breast
- A red or white nipple
- Scalp rash
- Swelling in the breast area
- Chilling pain in the breast area
- Nipple discharge, which is a white fluid
- Falling breast
- A lump under the nipple
- A nipple that sticks out
- Oily skin
Breast changes during the trimesters
These changes occur because hormone levels in your body are affected during pregnancy. Your hormones, particularly estrogen, a change which usually results in larger breasts.
Breast changes that develop in the first trimester include:
- Breast tenderness or change.
- Breasts that look less perky.
- Cradling the baby.
In the second trimester, your breasts may change slightly in appearance. Many women notice that their breasts may become a different color than before pregnancy. The change may result from the coloration of the breasts, increased blood supply to the breast, or increased levels of the protein erythroid progesterone.
Breast changes during the third trimester include:
- They may shrink or flatten.
- Breasts may fill with milk.
- They may look slightly inverted when breasts are stretched to accommodate a growing baby.
Breast changes during pregnancy may also include changes to the nipples.
The changes may include:
- Sticking out from the areola.
- Light pink or white nipple discharge.
- Red nipple discharge.
- Red, itchy nipple discharge.
Unwanted weight gain
You may gain anywhere from 10 to 40 pounds during pregnancy. Breast weight gain can also be affected by hormone changes, the baby’s position and height, and your weight gain during pregnancy.
If you notice that your breast changes are making breastfeeding difficult, contact your health care provider.
The most common breast changes after delivery
The most common breast changes after delivery are these:
Breast sore, redness or ulceration, thickening, darker nipples, dimpling. Breasts tend to change size and shape throughout a woman’s lifetime. They tend to gain volume, roundness, and skin, but they don’t change in shape or size to match the mother’s body in a post-partum state. After giving birth, they are softer, fuller, and can have loose, soft, or uneven edges. A woman’s breasts typically regain their shape and density.
Stretch marks on your chest
Another common postpartum skin condition, stretch marks on your chest tend to occur near the edge of the breast area where your breasts are connected to the skin. These may have a distinct blue/purplish appearance, and may appear on the sides, under your breasts, or on the entire side of your breasts.
How to get rid of stretch marks
With some scrub, it is possible to get rid of stretch marks, but make sure you are exfoliating your body gently. Don’t be rough with the products you use, and make sure you are using the right products for your body type.
Before you exfoliate your body, take some time to figure out the problem areas. What areas of your body have you noticed stretch marks, and what is the cause? Is it because of hormonal changes after having your baby or food that you are eating? This is how you can find out the cause.
Using a moisturizer or ointment will help your skin retain moisture. This will allow your body to better retain the moisture and prevent the stretch marks.
How long does breast changes last?
Breast changes usually last for about 3 months after delivery and it is not usually a big problem. Breast changes usually stop happening soon after delivery. If the breast changes get serious, or you get them more than 5 times in a month, then consult your gynecologist immediately.
When to see a doctor
See a doctor if you experience the following symptoms or notice that they are different than before:
- Change in the size and shape of your breasts
- Breast tenderness
- Painful, swollen breasts
- Changes in the consistency and taste of your nipples
- Changes in how your skin looks
- Changes in your menstrual cycle
- Difficulty with sleeping
- Changes in sexual desire
- Changes in bowel movements
- Pain in your chest, abdomen, and back
- Poor coordination
If you experience any of these symptoms in the first several months of pregnancy, you should speak to a doctor.
In most women, changes to breasts during and after pregnancy do not need to be addressed by a doctor. A woman can boost their confidence and feel good about the size and shape of her breasts.
Cosmetic procedures that enhance the shape of breasts or make them firmer or thicker are often safe options for some women. A woman should talk to a doctor before undergoing any procedure, as they can advise on the risks and benefits of particular treatments.
While many procedures are safe and result in permanent changes to the breasts, women should avoid undergoing treatments if they are extremely vulnerable. All medical treatments carry some risks and require consent from a doctor.