Pregnancy, Breastfeeding, and Changes in Breast Size

Breast Changes In Pregnancy and Postpartum To Prepare For Breastfeeding
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The breasts change size and shape during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and weaning. These changes can be slight for some women, and very dramatic for others. Hormones, genetics, and weight gain are just some of the factors that determine how much your breasts will grow and change. But, even if your breasts do not seem to change very much, it's usually not a concern. Women with all different breast shapes and sizes are able to breastfeed their babies successfully. Here are some of the common breast changes you may experience during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and weaning.


During pregnancy, your breasts will undergo changes to prepare for breastfeeding. Inside your breasts, the milk-producing glandular tissue and the milk ducts begin to grow. Your areola may get larger and darker in color. The Montgomery glands on the areola start to stand out and your nipples may protrude more. As pregnancy progresses, your breast will probably feel fuller and more tender.


Your breasts may grow even larger after the birth of your child. In the first few weeks postpartum, your milk supply will increase and it's common for swelling and breast engorgement to occur. The excessive swelling and pain should resolve in a few days, but if you are exclusively breastfeeding, your breasts will remain on the larger side as they produce and hold breast milk for your baby.


Once you are no longer exclusively breastfeeding, or as you begin to wean your baby from your breast, your breasts will begin to change again. As your child nurses less and less, your milk supply will slowly decline and your breasts will feel less full.

After fully weaning, it could take 6 months or longer for your breasts to return to the way they were before you became pregnant. However, they may never be exactly the same. After going through all the changes of pregnancy and breastfeeding, your breasts may remain larger, or they may appear smaller and softer. They may have stretch marks, or they may seem saggy. These are all normal changes that can occur.

If you have any concerns about the size, shape, or changes in your breasts as you go through the stages of pregnancy, breastfeeding, and weaning, see your doctor. Your doctor can examine your breasts and answer any questions that you may have. 

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  • American Academy of Pediatrics. New Mother’s Guide To Breastfeeding. Bantam Books. New York. 2011.
  • Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, Lawrence, Robert M., MD. Breastfeeding A Guide For The Medical Profession Seventh Edition.  Mosby. 2011.

By Donna Murray, RN, BSN
Donna Murray, RN, BSN has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Rutgers University and is a current member of Sigma Theta Tau, the Honor Society of Nursing.