Breast changes during and after pregnancy

1. Being breast aware in pregnancy
2. How do breasts change during pregnancy ?
3. Are front lout common during pregnancy ?
4. Is it normal to have lineage from your nipple ?
5. Finding the right size brassiere during pregnancy
6. How do breasts change after birth ?
7. potential summit problems after pregnancy
8. What happens if I do not breastfeed, or want to stop ?
9. Your breasts after pregnancy
10. further documentation

1. Being breast aware in pregnancy

It ’ south significant to be breast aware during and after pregnancy. This means getting to know how your breasts look and feel thus you know what ’ s normal for you. This will help you feel more confident about noticing any unusual changes .
Breasts change a lot during pregnancy, so it can be difficult to notice any unusual changes at this clock time. If you ’ ra uncertain about any change to your breasts, talk to your midwife or GP .

The breasts and nipples

A diagram of the breast and nipple

Breasts are made up of lobules ( milk-producing glands ) and ducts ( tubes that carry milk to the nipple ). These are surrounded by glandular, fibrous and fatty tissue. This weave gives breasts their size and shape. The benighted area of skin around the nipple is called the areola. On the areola there are some small raised bumps called Montgomery glands, which produce fluid to moisturise the nipple .

2. How do breasts change during pregnancy?

Your breasts change during pregnancy to prepare them for feeding your baby. These changes are caused by an increase in hormones, and may include the postdate :

  • Tenderness or a change in sensation of the nipple and breast
  • An increase in breast size
  • Changes in the colour and size of nipples and areola
  • Bigger and more noticeable Montgomery glands

From about the 16th week of pregnancy the breasts are able to produce milk. It ’ s not unusual for small amounts of straw-colored fluid called colostrum to leak from the nipples. If you ’ re worry that it may be noticeable on your clothes, you can use a front pad ( a disposable or washable fabric pad ) inside your brassiere .
In the last few weeks of pregnancy the nipples become larger and the breasts continue to grow as the milk-producing cells get bigger. Your breasts may feel uncomfortable and sometimes irritating. Wearing a well-fitting brassiere may help relieve any pain or discomfort. It ’ randomness fine to sleep in a brassiere if it ’ randomness more comfortable for you .
Women are normally advised to avoid certain types of trouble stand-in while pregnant, but if your breasts are peculiarly afflictive you can talk to your GP or midwife for advice on annoyance medicine .

3. Are breast lumps common during pregnancy?

Breast lumps sometimes develop during pregnancy. The most common ones are :

  • Cysts (fluid-filled sacs)
  • Galactoceles (milk-filled cysts)
  • Fibroadenomas (which develop in the lobules of the breast)

These are benign ( not cancer ) breast conditions. If you had a fibroadenoma before you were meaning you may find this gets bigger during pregnancy .
Breast cancer in women of child-bearing age and during pregnancy is uncommon. however, you should get any new breast lout, or any changes to an existing breast lout, checked by your GP .

4. Is it normal to have blood from your nipple?

A few women may have episodic escape of blood from the nipple. This is due to an addition in the number and size of blood vessels. Although this can be normal during pregnancy, it ’ second best to get any escape of blood from the nipple checked by your GP .

5. Finding the right size bra during pregnancy

As your breasts increase in size you should check that your brassiere international relations and security network ’ thyroxine besides close. It ’ randomness worth visiting a department store or lingerie shop to be measured and have your brassiere size checked by a train brassiere fitter. Or you could contact the National Childbirth Trust ( NCT ) .
A brassiere fits well if :

  • Your breasts fill the cup of the bra leaving no loose fabric and it contains the whole breast without any bulging at the top, bottom or sides
  • The strap at the back doesn’t dig in
  • The shoulder straps do not carry the full weight of your breasts, stay in place when you lift your arms above your head and fit closely to your body without digging in
  • The strap round the back and the front underband lie close to your body and are at the same level at the front and back
  • With an underwired bra, the underwire lies flat against your body and supports the underneath and sides of your breast without digging in or gaping
  • The bra fits on the loosest set of hooks so that when it begins to stretch with time you can tighten it

You may find it more comfortable to wear a motherliness or soft-cup brassiere. These types of bras can besides be worn in layer if you feel you need supernumerary support while sleeping .
If you ’ ra hoping to breastfeed, you may want to buy a pair of harbor bras. These have cups that unfasten and make it easier to feed your pamper. The best time to be fitted for a nursing brassiere is a few weeks before your baby is due when your breasts will have done the majority of their grow .
For more data on finding a brassiere that fits correctly download our guide to a well-fitting brassiere .

6. How do breasts change after birth?

Following the parentage of a baby, estrogen and progesterone levels decrease promptly. Around the third day or indeed after the birth the colostrum becomes diluted by extra fluid that makes it look much blank. Around this time your breasts may start to leak milk .
When a pamper sucks at the summit it triggers nerves that carry messages to the brain that milk is needed. Some women find milk leaks from the nipple when they hear their baby cry, or if their breasts are full and they feel emotional .
This can happen quite a draw in the first few days after you give birth and can sometimes be embarrassing. Putting disposable or washable breast pads in your brassiere can help you feel more comfortable and organize .

Changes due to breastfeeding

The changes that happen to the breasts during pregnancy prepare them for feeding a baby. The Department of Health recommends entirely breastfeeding for the first base six months of your baby ’ randomness animation, if possible, and then continuing to breastfeed aboard solid foods for adenine long as mother and child wish. inquiry shows that breastfeeding may reduce the risk of developing summit cancer .
Although breastfeed is a lifelike march it can sometimes take a little time to get correct. If you ’ re finding it unmanageable, talk to your midwife or health visitor .
Some women choose not to breastfeed because it hasn ’ thyroxine been possible or they just do not feel it is the right choice for them and their child. There is not a right or wrong decision ; you just need to feel you ’ ve made the best decision for you and your baby .
Women who ’ ve had breast operation – due to breast cancer, breast decrease, surgery to the nipple or summit implants, for example – may find that they ’ rhenium unable to breastfeed. This is due to the constitution of scar tissue. however, some women are still able to breastfeed after operation. You can ask your midwife, health visitor or breastfeed counselor for help if needed .
You can find more information about breastfeeding on the NHS web site. You can besides call the National Breastfeeding Helpline on 0300 100 0212 for confidential breastfeed support and information .

7. Possible breast problems after pregnancy

The pursuit describes some of the problems you may experience when your milk ‘ comes in ’ ( when your body begins to produce breast milk and no longer colostrum ). Some of this information may apply whether you decide to breastfeed or not .
Problems could include :

  • Sore and cracked nipples
  • Engorgement
  • Blocked milk ducts
  • Mastitis
  • Breast abscess
  • Thrush

Sore and cracked nipples

huffy and cracked nipples can develop if the baby does not attach to the breast correctly. If the baby alone sucks the nipple, rather than the whole areola being in their mouth, the baby ’ s tongue or roof of the mouth rub on the nipple. The nipples can promptly become sore and sometimes cracked .
The nipples won ’ metric ton mend if the baby does not attach to the breast properly, so if run is atrocious it ’ s important to get support from a midwife or breastfeeding counselor a soon as possible .


Breast engorgement is when the summit becomes overfull of milk. Some women describe their breasts as feeling intemperate, warm and throbbing. Breast engorgement generally happens when milk foremost comes into the breasts .
If your breasts are engorged and you ’ re continuing to breastfeed, it ’ sulfur important to make sure your pamper is attaching to the front correctly. Your midwife, health visitor or breastfeeding counselor can help you with this .
Breast engorgement may be eased by :

  • Feeding your baby on demand
  • Expressing (squeezing out) or using a breast pump to release a small amount of milk so it’s easier for your baby to attach to your breast

You may besides find the follow helpful :

  • Wear a well-fitting nursing bra that does not restrict your breasts
  • If your breasts are leaking, apply warm flannels just before expressing
  • Apply chilled cabbage leaves to your breasts after feeding or expressing milk – this may help to reduce pain and swelling
  • Take paracetamol at the recommended dose to ease the pain – this is safe to take while you’re breastfeeding

Blocked milk ducts

sometimes a milk duct becomes blocked while breastfeeding. This can besides happen when you stop breastfeeding. You may experience a small, irritating, hard lump or a bruise feeling .
Things that may help include :

  • Feeding your baby more often
  • Changing position when you’re feeding (this may help to drain the area more fully)
  • Gently massaging the lump towards the nipple while your baby is feeding
  • Applying warm flannels to the breast
  • Ensuring your bra and clothes aren’t too tight so the milk can flow freely


If breast engorgement or blocked milk ducts continue the breast may become inflame or infected. This is called mastitis. The breast may be red, hot and atrocious. mastitis can cause flu-like symptoms including headaches, nausea and a grow temperature .
It ’ sulfur important to continue to breastfeed frequently, specially from the feign breast, as this helps to clear the infection and international relations and security network ’ thymine harmful to the baby .
If you think you might have mastitis you ’ ll want to see your sophisticate as it may need treating with antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs .

Breast abscess

If mastitis or an infection international relations and security network ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate treated, some women go on to develop an abscess ( a collection of pus ) in the breast. Breast abscesses are not common – if you think you have an abscess it ’ sulfur very important to see your GP. They may refer you to a breast clinic .
Abscesses are normally treated with antibiotics and are often drained using a phonograph needle and syringe. An sonography scan may be used to guide the acerate leaf into the decline set. If the abscess is large, a little deletion is made in it to allow the pus to drain away. An injection of local anesthetic is normally given to numb the area first .
As with mastitis, your doctor will normally advise you to continue breastfeeding or use a breast pump to express the milk regularly .


Thrush ( candida albicans ) is a yeast infection that may occur on the nipple and areola during breastfeeding. It can develop following cracking or damage to the nipple but may besides happen abruptly, even when you ’ ve been breastfeeding for some time .
The nipple may become itchy, painful and sensitive to touch. Some women find they have shooting pains deep in the breast that begin after feeding and can last for a few hours .
thrush can be difficult to diagnose as many of the symptoms are like to those caused by the baby not being latched on to the breast by rights during breastfeed ( see Sore and cracked nipples ) .
thrush can besides be passed from mother to baby. Signs of thrush in your baby may include a creamy patch on the tongue or in the mouth which does not rub off. Babies may besides get a huffy mouthpiece which can cause restlessness during feed and pulling away from the summit. diaper rash ( crimson rash or tenderness that ’ s slow to heal ) is another symptom of thrush .
If you think you have these symptoms, lecture to your GP or health visitor. Both you and your baby will need to have treatment at the lapp time .

8. What happens if I do not breastfeed, or want to stop? 

If you choose not to breastfeed and no milk is being expressed you ’ ll catch producing milk. You may find your breasts feel heavy, uncomfortable and huffy for a few days. Wearing a supportive brassiere and taking trouble relief may help .
Women continue to produce milk deoxyadenosine monophosphate long as breastfeed continues. When you stop breastfeeding it may take some time for the milk production to stop wholly .
If you stop breastfeeding besides promptly it can lead to engorgement. When you want to stop breastfeeding it ’ second best to gradually reduce the distance and phone number of your breastfeeds. You may like to start by dropping one feed a day. Your body produces milk on a supply-and-demand footing so this will naturally reduce the total of milk you produce .
milk may leak for several weeks after you stop breastfeeding if something triggers the ‘ let down ’ reflex ( when hormones tell your breasts to produce milk ). You may experience a prickling feeling in your breasts and nipples that can be quite firm, a feeling of sudden fullness, or you may notice that milk starts to leak from either or both breasts .
When you stop breastfeeding your breasts will slowly reduce in size .

9. Your breasts after pregnancy

After pregnancy, whether you have breastfed or not, your breasts credibly won ’ metric ton look or feel the same as they used to. You may have gained or lost weight, and it ’ s not unusual to find your breasts have altered in size and shape compared with earlier pregnancy.

These changes are part of the convention changes your breasts go through at different stages in life. It ’ south crucial that you get to know how your breasts look and feel immediately so you can be aware of any new changes. You can find out more on our Checking your breasts pages .

10. Further support

Changes to your breasts during and after pregnancy can make you feel anxious or you aren ’ t in control condition. If you ’ rhenium finding it unmanageable to cope, talk to your GP or you can call our Helpline and talk to one of our experts on 0808 800 6000 .

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