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Common Breast Changes During Pregnancy

written by: Charlotte Raynor • edited by: BStone • updated: 2/28/2011

There are many things that happen to a woman's body during pregnancy, but many do not realize what the breast changes during pregnancy are. Everything from tenderness, soreness to stretch marks occur during this time. Read on to learn more about these changes.

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    Pregnancy and the Breasts

    Most people understand the changes that happen when a women is pregnant as far as her belly goes, but there are other changes too. The whole body changes, especially the breasts. Before pregnancy, the breasts are mainly an embellishment to the body. Once pregnancy happens, the breasts experience many changes in order to get them ready to provide nourishment to the baby. From the moment the baby is conceived, the breasts are constantly changing. Of all the changes that happen to a women, the different ways that the breast changes during pregnancy is the most interesting.

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    First Trimester

    A woman may have symptoms of pregnancy in her breasts before she even knows she is pregnant. One of the first symptoms is breast tenderness, and this can start at four to six weeks. All through the first three months of pregnancy, the breasts can be very tender. The reason for this is hormonal changes which makes the blood flow increase and changes the breast tissue. This may make the breasts abnormally sensitive to the touch, feel sore, swollen and tingly. Some woman say that the feeling is something like they feel right before their period.

    The changes that occur in a pregnant women are caused by pregnancy hormones which motivate the breasts. The hormone called progesterone is what causes most of the breast changes. The hormone estrogen matures the milk ducts and glands. During pregnancy, as more blood flows throughout the breasts and the bluish veins show on the skin. Additionally, the pigmented circles around the nipples called areolas will become darker and larger after the first few months.

    During pregnancy as the breasts mature, the areolas will darken from pink to brown or red brown. The nipples will get bigger and become more rigid so that the baby can feed. The bumps on the areola which surround the nipple are called Montgomery's tubercles and these bumps get larger and secrete a liquid that lubricates the nipples. Around the third month, the breasts will start producing colostrum which is the unique milk that the baby will start to nurse right after birth. This is just the beginning of the breast changes during pregnancy.

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    Second Trimester

    Since water is retained in the body during pregnancy, the breasts will be getting larger at the beginning of the second trimester. Additionally, the milk ducts and glands begin to enlarge and the growth of fatty tissue is increased. Most women will see their breast cup size increase two cup sizes and each breast will increase its weight by about half a pound. This is just another way the breast changes during pregnancy and if the breasts grow especially big, stretch marks may develop. It is advisable to wear a support bra during the pregnancy and if it helps, wear it at night also.

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    Third Trimester

    During the third trimester, a pregnant woman may start to leak a small amount of colostrum, which is a thick yellowish liquid. However, some women will start to leak earlier in the pregnancy and some woman never experience this problem at all. Gauze or cotton pads can be placed in the bra to absorb this liquid. It is not unusual for the leaking colostrum to dry on the nipple surface. Nipples that are caked with this liquid should be cleaned a couple times during the day. It is best to only use warm water since soap can dry the skin and make the nipple's skin crack.

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    References

    Baby Center, http://www.babycenter.com/0_breast-changes-during-pregnancy_262.bc

    Baby Partner, http://www.babypartner.com/guides/health-and-fitness/common-complaints/breast-changes.php

    Baby Zone, http://www.babyzone.com/pregnancy/symptoms/article/breast-changes-during-pregnancy

    Pregnancy.org, http://www.pregnancy.org/article/breast-changes-during-pregnancy