Breast and Chest Changes During Pregnancy

Of all the changes that come with pregnancy, breast and chest changes seem to be one of the most felt and earliest felt symptoms. I don’t know about you, but my boobs started to hurt before I ever saw two pink lines. Although breast/chest changes occur in most pregnant individuals, they can be hard to differentiate from symptoms of a period since many express feeling similar sensations during their cycles. 

Changes in Size + Itchiness, and Stretch Marks

There are quite a few different sensations that pregnant individuals report, but here are the most common ones. First, many pregnant individuals report a change in size. I am not talking about them feeling slightly heavier. I am talking about one or two cup sizes larger than you were pre-pregnancy. This growth can take place slowly over the length of the pregnancy, but for some, it can feel like they pop overnight. 

Itchiness and stretch marks may accompany the growth if there is a fast growth. And do not be fooled. Usually, the growth does not stop in pregnancy. It simply continues to happen as your milk comes into full force. 

Changes to Your Nipples and Areolas

Another type of growth that you may have noticed is in your nipple and areola. Maybe you find that your nipples are a bit peakier than they have ever been before or kind of resemble that of a binky. All of this is normal. Your breast/chest growth and changes are preparing for when you will be feeding and soothing your baby. Could the binky be shaped like your nipple and not the other way?

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Tenderness and Sensitivity 

These symptoms are the ones that I hear about the most as a midwife. Maybe your partner brushed past you and grazed your nipple, and it feels like someone stabbed your boob with a needle. It could be that during sex, there seems to be a heightened amount of sensitivity, whether good or bad, you’ll be the one to say. Other ways this tenderness appears to pop up are more like PMS symptoms, such as when your chest feels achy. It could be that you need less underwire and more softness.

On the other hand, it could be that you need a little more support. Give both options a try and see if you find any relief. If you choose to buy a bra during pregnancy, I recommend a cheap one because, as I said above, the growth of your breasts/chest does not stop here.

Darkening Pigment

The darkening pigment of your areola and your breast/chest veins can be another change during pregnancy. This one is pretty cool. Maybe you have also heard of the Linea Negra because they work together. The body’s way of leading the baby to the bullseye is to darken the colors and make the breast/chest stand out more. These changes in pigmentation to your areola occur due to increased hormones, and the veins get darker because of the increased blood supply to your breasts/chest. It is wild how this darkening can change your appearance in drastic ways. Deep breaths if you are not loving it, you may get used to it, or you may not, but many others, and I can say that they do go back to looking their more regular color.

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The Beginning of Colostrum

Notice that during a hot shower or sex, you are leaking a yellow sticky substance? Maybe you were changing into your PJs when you noticed that your nipple was a bit stuck to your bra. Yeah, I know. It's not the most comfy sensation. This substance that is leaking from your nipples is called colostrum, and it is the first milk that your baby will ever get. Colostrum is incredible stuff, sometimes coined liquid gold. Nutrient and antioxidant-packed honey-textured milk nourishes your baby in the first few days to the week of their life until your milk comes in. 

It is perfectly normal to leak colostrum or not leak it, and neither of these are indications of whether or not you will be able to nurse your little one. If you are leaking, you can collect it and keep it in your freezer, or you can ignore it, too. Either way works. Sometimes, having some collected colostrum can be helpful in the immediate postpartum, but if you have any history of early labor or loss, do not pump or hand express as these things can cause early labor in some individuals. The good news is that even if you leak colostrum, your body will not run out! Our bodies continue to produce colostrum until our babies and placentas are born, wherein the body is then triggered to begin producing milk.


Another highly reported symptom is that individuals find these little bumps on their areolas. In most cases (about 30-50%), these are Montgomery’s Tubercles, oil glands that appear on the nipple. These oil glands are super crucial for lubricating the nipple and for keeping germs away from the breast/chest. Another little bump that can occur is getting skin tags, even skin tags on their nipple. Once again, this is normal, although many report them to be annoying and, in some cases, painful. They can be removed if you are uncomfortable with them during pregnancy or nursing.

Whether you notice a lot of breast/chest changes or only some tenderness, this is normal and in no way an indicator of success with nursing. Trying some of the tips above can be helpful, but otherwise, you will likely get used to these sensations. If you have any concerning symptoms, contact your care provider and let them know what you are experiencing.


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