How Your Breasts Change During Pregnancy

Breast changes during pregnancy

Verywell / Alexandra Gordon 

Many people who hope to become pregnant or who have just conceived wonder how pregnancy changes breasts. For instance, what do breasts feel like during pregnancy? And what part of the breast hurts in early pregnancy? While each person's experience is unique, most pregnant people say that their breasts feel heavy and sensitive while they are pregnant, particularly early on. Breast pain tends to be felt most in the areolas and nipples but can impact the whole breast.

In fact, one of the first pregnancy symptoms many people have is changes in their breast tissue. Breasts respond to pregnancy by changing in preparation for breastfeeding. These changes, which result from increased blood flow and hormonal changes, begin soon after conception. They include heightened sensitivity, breast pain, particularly around the nipple area, a darkening of the areolas and nipples, and enlargement of the breasts, nipples, and areola.

Learn more about common breast changes that might happen during your pregnancy.

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Moms Share How Their Breasts Changed During Pregnancy

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Common Breast Changes During Pregnancy

Here are some common breast changes that might happen during your pregnancy.

Sore Breasts

Early in the first trimester, you might notice that your breasts are sore or tender. For some people, this is also a sign of an impending period—meaning it might go unnoticed.

How tender your breasts are can vary. You might experience slight tenderness when you touch your breasts or might have severe pain whenever you wear a bra. Both variants are normal and are usually most intense in the first trimester.

Tender breasts are one reason people sometimes prefer to avoid sex during their first trimester. While sex during pregnancy is safe, if you have discomfort you might want to avoid having your nipples touched.

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How Will Pregnancy Change My Body?

Nipple Changes

Your nipples may get larger and darker as your pregnancy progresses. You might also notice small, goosebump or pimple-like white areas on your areola. These are called Montgomery's tubercles and they are completely normal.

Avoid popping these bumps—they provide a protective substance that helps keep your breasts healthy.

Larger Breasts 

Toward the end of the first trimester and the beginning of the second trimester, you might notice your breasts begin to grow as the tissues prepare for nursing.

By the end of your pregnancy, make sure you have been fitted for a nursing bra that can accommodate larger breasts. This will ensure your comfort. You might want to look for a special sleep bra as well.

Leaking Colostrum and Discharge

Colostrum is the first milk that your body makes and it provides your newborn with everything they need at the start of life. Colostrum can boost your baby's immune system and help prevent jaundice.

At the end of your pregnancy, you might find that your breasts are leaking a gold-colored fluid. Your nipples might also develop a film or caked substance. All of these fluids are colostrum (which is sometimes called "liquid gold" both because of its color and many benefits to babies).

If the leaking is noticeable or bothersome, a breast pad can help you feel more comfortable. If you use breast pads, make sure that they are breathable. You don't want to leave your nipples in a moist environment—a prime place for thrush or a yeast infection to develop.

When No Breast Changes Are Present 

Some people only have slight or no symptoms of breast changes when they are pregnant. If you are one of these people, don't panic. It has nothing to do with your ability to have a successful pregnancy.

In some cases, your doctor might want to find out if you have something called insufficient glandular tissue (IGT) or breast hypoplasia.

If you are worried about the changes that are occurring (or not) in your breasts, talk to your midwife or doctor about this and insist on a breast exam. This will help them identify any potential issues and treat them before your baby is born, if possible.

A Word From Verywell

Changing breasts are a normal part of pregnancy, but each person's experience will be different. As your body prepares for your baby, the changes that take place in the tissues of your breast will ensure you are ready to provide your newborn with what they need to thrive in the first days of life should you choose to breastfeed.

Learning to cope with these changes—both those that are physical and those that are to do with your wardrobe— is part of having a positive pregnancy. If you have any concerns about your breasts at any time, whether you are pregnant or not, talk to your doctor.

4 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Pregnancy Association. Breast Changes During Pregnancy.

  2. Bryant J, Thistle J. Anatomy, Colostrum. In: StatPearls.

  3. Hanna L, Cruz SA. Candida mastitis: a case reportPerm J. 2011;15(1):62–64. doi:10.7812/tpp/10-088

  4. Arbour MW, Kessler JL. Mammary hypoplasia: not every breast can produce sufficient milk. J Midwifery Womens Health. 2013;58(4):457-61. doi:10.1111/jmwh.12070

Additional Reading
  • Cassar-Uhl, D. Finding Sufficiency: Breastfeeding With Insufficient Glandular Tissue. Praclaerus Press.

  • Galbarczyk A. Unexpected Changes in Maternal breast Size During Pregnancy in Relation to Infant Sex: An Evolutionary Interpretation. Am J Hum Biol. 2011 Jul-Aug;23(4):560-2. doi: 10.1002/ajhb.21177.

  • Mohrbacher, N. Breastfeeding Answers Made Simple: A Guide for Helping Mothers. Hale Publishing.

By Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH
Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH is a professor, author, childbirth and postpartum educator, certified doula, and lactation counselor.