Breast changes during pregnancy, by trimester

If you think your belly, mood, and appetite are the only things that change during pregnancy, you’d be mistaken. Let’s talk boobs. Changes in your breasts are one of the first early pregnancy signs you may notice. And those early changes are just the beginning. Truth is, your breasts will change a lot over the next nine months and beyond.

Why so many changes?

Pregnancy causes the hormones estrogen and progesterone to fluctuate in your body, which is what affects your breasts. Everything is working to get those boobs ready to breastfeed once your baby hits the scene.

So, what kinds of breast changes should you expect, and when should you expect them? Let’s break down the breast changes that occur during pregnancy by trimester.

Breast changes during the first trimester

One of the first changes you may notice during pregnancy is that your breasts feel tender. And maybe not just a little tender. Maybe please-don’t-go-over-any-bumps-in-the-car tender. Eek. What’s going on here?

Well, when you become pregnant, your hormones kick into high gear, making your breasts feel sore, tender, and even swollen. Think: PMS to the max. You may also notice more prominent veins in your breasts and that you’re suddenly spilling out of your bra.

An increase in breast size and nipple sensitivity + darkened areolas are all normal breast changes in early pregnancy. And because these changes often happen before a missed period or positive pregnancy test, for many women, this is one of the first clues that they might be pregnant.

The good news is that as your body gets used to the hormonal changes, typically within a few weeks, the tenderness should subside a bit. In the meantime, make sure you’re wearing soft, supportive bras so your girls are as comfortable as possible.

Breast changes during the second trimester

By the second trimester, the rise in estrogen levels typically leads to noticeably larger breasts. Believe it or not, milk production is developing during this stage of your pregnancy, so your boobs may even feel very heavy and full. This is also when your breasts will start to produce colostrum, which is the first form of breastmilk you’ll feed to your baby if you breastfeed.

Because your boobs are already hard at work in the second trimester, you may notice your breasts leaking milk from time to time. It’s totally normal to experience some leakage. If you do, go ahead and purchase some comfy breast pads so you don’t have to worry about leaks through your shirt.

Breast changes during the third trimester

Girls feeling heavy and huge about now? Totally normal. As you ease into the third trimester, you can expect your breasts to continue increasing in size. In fact, over the course of your pregnancy, your boobs can gain from one to three pounds in weight.

You may also notice that the skin surrounding your breasts has become dense, causing stretch marks. Or, your breasts may be itchy and dry because your skin is stretched and thin.

By this point of your pregnancy, your nipples are also likely to change shape or size and become more pronounced as they prepare for potential breastfeeding. This growth in size and darkening in color is nature’s way of creating a target for your baby so that breastfeeding is easier in those early days. ‘Cos nature is cool like that.

As you near the end of your pregnancy, you may also notice a milky or yellowish discharge coming from your breasts. This is the colostrum we talked about earlier and it’s a good sign that your breasts are ready to feed and nourish your baby. Don’t see any discharge? That’s okay, too! It doesn’t mean your breasts won’t be ready or that you’re not making colostrum.

If you haven’t already started shopping for new bras, now’s the time. And, pro tip: If you plan on breastfeeding, save yourself some money + get more wear out of your new bigger bras by skipping the regular bra section and heading straight for the maternity section. That’s where you’ll find nursing bras, which make it easy to get the girls out fast (#1 priority when you have an impatient and hungry baby in your arms).

What you can do to ease pain or discomfort during pregnancy

Unfortunately, breast discomfort and wonky boob behavior is just a part of pregnancy. But the good news is that there are a few key things you can do to help ease the pains and unpleasant surprises breast changes bring in pregnancy and postpartum. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A comfortable and supportive maternity/nursing bra that’s designed to support growing breasts.
  • A comfortable nursing bra made to hold the girls while you’re sleeping.
  • Breast pads to prevent sensitive nipples from rubbing against fabric + keep leaks from making their way through your clothes.
  • Butters, balms, and hydrogel pads to combat nipple pain and discomfort.
  • Lotions and creams to combat dry skin, itchiness, and stretch marks.
  • Hot/cold therapy for swelling and tenderness.

The one thing you can be sure of during pregnancy is that your breasts will change A LOT. Your body is going through the single biggest change it can experience, so it’s only normal that your breasts feel the changes, too. Embrace the changes and remember it’s all for baby’s sake. Your body is freakin’ incredible!

P.S. Want to start breastfeeding off on the right boob…er, foot? Pick up our Breastfeeding Box. And don’t forget, you’ll need a breast pump! You can get one for free through your insurance, and we can take care of the logistics for you, so it’s one less thing you have to worry about. Just fill out our quick app and we’ll get to work.

How soon do your breasts change when pregnant?

Breast changes occur very early in pregnancy, even before pregnancy can be detected by a test.

How do your breasts change in early pregnancy?

In early pregnancy, breast changes include increased tenderness, swelling, and a heavy or full feeling. Over the course of the first trimester, changes can also include growth in size, pronounced veins, increased nipple sensitivity, and darker and larger areolas.

Why do breasts get bigger during pregnancy?

Pregnancy alters estrogen and progesterone levels in the body, both of which cause changes in the breasts, such as an increase in the growth of the cells that produce milk. Breast changes are in preparation for lactation. The hormone prolactin (triggered by estrogen) also plays a role in the growth of breasts during pregnancy.

How do your boobs feel when pregnant?

During pregnancy, breasts can feel tender, sore, heavy, or full. The overall growth of the breasts can cause skin to stretch, resulting in skin that feels itchy.