While pregnant, your tummy expands to accommodate your growing baby. But many women may not realize that their entire bodies are transformed by the brand new lives inside them—and no other area changes more than the breasts.
Thought of as an adornment until now, the breasts experience dramatic changes during pregnancy as they prepare for their role in providing nourishment for a little one. Here's what you can expect from your breasts during pregnancy and in the postpartum stage.
You may notice it before you find out you're pregnant: tenderness. The breasts can become very tender to the touch during the first three months of pregnancy, says Sue Huml, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and member of the Lansinoh Breastfeeding Advisory Board. They may become fuller as well, which is the primary reason for the increased sensitivity.
The fun has only just begun! As your pregnancy progresses, so does the expansion of your breasts. The extreme sensitivity usually diminishes by now, says Huml, but expect quite a gain in the bust area. "It is not unusual to increase breast size by four to six inches and one to three cup sizes," says Huml. Get ready to change your bra often!
The middle months of pregnancy also bring a change to the nipples. The nipple and areola can double in size and may actually stay that way after delivery. The typically pinkish-brown skin will darken and continue to do so for the remainder of the pregnancy. This is due to the increased blood circulation to the breasts, says Dawne Kirkwood, mother of five and author of Giving Birth to Me, The Guide to Birthing Your Dreams.
As you near your due date, your breasts will continue to expand with your belly. They will feel much heavier, says Kirkwood, especially once they begin to produce colostrum. This yellowish fluid is rich in antibodies and filled with nutrients to provide your newborn with the vital minerals needed to make a healthy start in life.
You will also notice tiny bumps around the areola called Montgomery's tubercles. These glands produce an oil that will help make breastfeeding more comfortable when the time comes. The nipples will become much more elastic, too, says Huml, which will be a lifesaver once you're breasts are called for active duty.