Symptoms of pregnancy - Breast changes

Symptoms of pregnancy - Breast changes

Symptoms of pregnancy - Breast changes 

Some of the earliest signs of pregnancy that you may or may not notice are changes in your breasts. These include changes in the fullness of your breasts to tenderness and even changes in the colour of your nipples. Here's what's going on:

Breast fullness, tenderness and discomfort during early pregnancy

The tenderness you feel may not be the PMS symptom you think it is but rather an indication you're pregnant, and is often one of the first signs you may notice even before you take that pregnancy test.

The reason for breast tenderness, soreness and feelings of heaviness, fullness and tingling? Rapidly shifting hormones! Approximately ten days post conception, the placenta begins to release human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), this is the hormone that not only initiates the required estrogen, progesterone and prolactin production for a healthy pregnancy, but also indicates pregnancy in a test.

The release of these hormones increases blood flow and enlarges the milk ducts, which explains why you may experience sensations in your breasts and nipples that range from fullness to mild discomfort and tingling, to all out "don't touch me" kind of pain.

Unlike breast tenderness experienced with PMS, pregnancy associated swelling and soreness doesn't pass in a week or so, but may continue until around the end of the third trimester.

Until then, wear a comfortable bra that fits properly (it may be helpful to wear a soft t-shirt type bra while you sleep) and doesn't put pressure on the milk ducts. Applying a warm or cool wash cloth (depending on your preference) may help to ease discomfort. Also up your water intake and reduce your salt consumption to avoid water retention which can aggravate this symptom.

Changes to your nipples

The areola (the area around the nipples), may darken (or possibly even become spotted) in early pregnancy due to changes in hormones that regulate pigmentation in the skin1. Your nipples may also enlarge. These changes are perfectly normal and a few months post-pregnancy, everything usually returns to normal.



1. Breast Changes During Pregnancy. March 2017. Available: [Accessed: 16 July 2018]

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