It is normal for breast tissue to undergo specific changes during pregnancy and prepare for the process of lactation. These changes do not occur all of a sudden but gradually throughout the entire pregnancy.
Early Breast Changes in Pregnancy
Pregnant women initially notice their breasts become more tender and sore. These sensations generally occur as early as first two weeks of pregnancy. Breasts generally become larger and may appear swollen while some women complain about tender or sore nipples. These changes may resemble changes that occur right before menstruation but can be a bit more intensive. Breast tenderness generally lingers for approximately 6 weeks and may withdraw after the first trimester.
Later Breast Changes during Pregnancy
In many pregnant women breasts become much larger than they used to be. For example, breast tissue can enlarge so that a woman starts wearing a cup size larger bra or even more. The most dramatic changes affect women during their first pregnancy and the following ones do not bring such significant changes to breast tissue and breast appearance.
Later in pregnancy a woman may start feeling itching sensation caused by rapid growth of the breasts and stretching of the skin. In case the stretching occurs rapidly and the skin is not elastic enough there is a chance of stretch marks forming. By taking proper care of the skin and using adequate moisturizing creams stretch marks on breasts can be successfully prevented.
Furthermore, 6-8 weeks after conception the nipples become larger and darker while the veins of the superficial layer of breasts become more visible. Another change is in a form of Montgomery's tubercles, small bumps that develop around the breast nipples.
And finally, in some pregnant women in late second trimester as well as during the third trimester the leakage of colostrum (premilk) occurs.
Breast Changes after Delivery
Soon after delivery the body starts to synthesize large amounts of prolactin, a hormone essential for milk production. Additional stimulation of lactation is obtained with baby's sucking. Initial milk produced after delivery is called colostrum. A woman will notice swelling of her breasts due to heavy production of milk. Breasts may feel lumpy or heavy and sometimes they will ache.
So the size of breast even gets larger once a woman starts breastfeeding. It is essential to breastfeed the baby according to doctor's recommendations and take proper care of breasts before and after each feeding.
After discontinuation of breastfeeding nipples return to their regular color and breasts may return to their original size even though many women are left with larger or smaller breasts comparing to their size prior to pregnancy. Stretch marks remain but they become less visible in time. And finally, in some women the loose skin may be responsible for saggy appearance of breasts.