The female breast consists of muscles, connective tissue, nerves, blood and lymph vessels of fatty tissue, glands and milk ducts.
Many women notice changes in their breasts as the first sign of pregnancy. Due to the hormonal changes in the body and the associated enlargement of glandular tissue and milk ducts and a stronger circulation, the breasts become larger and can be sensitive to touch. Many women already know these symptoms as part of their normal monthly cycle. In contrast, changes in the breast during pregnancy are usually more pronounced.
During pregnancy, the breast changes continuously. In the first trimester of pregnancy (first to twelfth week of pregnancy (SSW)) is the strong increase in hormones in many women breast growth in the foreground. In the second trimester of pregnancy (13th to 28th week of gestation), the rate of growth decreases somewhat. The nipples can appear a little darker and sometimes already from this phase of pregnancy premilk, the so-called colostrum, can escape.
In the third trimester of pregnancy (29th to 40th week of pregnancy), the breast is actively preparing for breastfeeding. The actual milk injection usually follows a few days after birth. The changes in the breast during pregnancy, however, are individually different from woman to woman.
Especially the hormonal changes during pregnancy have an effect on the changes of the entire body and especially on changes of the breast.
Hormones that are increasingly produced during and after pregnancy include the female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone, as well as human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), prolactin and oxytocin. Estrogen, progesterone, prolactin and oxytocin play an important role in breast changes during pregnancy. Estrogen and progesterone increase the number of mammary ducts and thus increase breast growth. Prolactin and oxytocin cause milk injection, milk production and milk transport during breastfeeding.
While the breast changes in the course of pregnancy due to the hormonal changes, there are a variety of symptoms that the expectant mother can perceive. Since the change in the breast during pregnancy is very individual, the pregnant woman can observe more or less accompanying symptoms per se.
Many women feel especially in early pregnancy a feeling of tightness, tingling and a touch sensation of the breasts. Sometimes they can also feel hot and swollen. To relieve the symptoms, you can cream the breasts with creams (with, for example, chamomile or marigold) or treat with cool envelopes.
Often, breast and / or back pain occurs due to increased breast growth during pregnancy. In this case, a well-supporting bra (without straps, with wide underbust band and wide straps) can prevent chest and back pain.
Due to the increased blood flow, the veins can be increasingly visible. These are visible as blue lines around the nipple.
Furthermore, by a rapid growth of the breasts so-called stretch marks (Latin Striae gravidarum) or stretch marks occur. These are tears of the connective tissue of the subcutis and are caused by the strong stretching of the skin. They can occur on the chest, abdomen, thighs and buttocks. At first they shimmer blue-red and fade over time. Mostly white or silver-colored scars remain, which do not disappear completely anymore. The development of the stretch marks of the skin can not be completely prevented because it is also dependent on the skin and connective tissue of a woman. Pregnant women can, however, influence the degree by, for example, creaming, oiling and massaging the skin.
During breastfeeding, inflammation of the breast may occur, called mastitis. One or both breasts are reddened, hardened, hot and swollen and fever can occur. Causes can be either a milk backlog in the milk ducts or an infection by bacteria. In this case, a gynecologist should be consulted, since possibly an antibiotic therapy should be initiated.
The first third of the pregnancy describes the first to third month of pregnancy or the first to twelfth weeks of pregnancy.
Many women notice the changes in their breasts as the first sign of pregnancy. Due to the strong increase in pregnancy hormones, especially at the beginning of pregnancy, and the concomitant increase in the number of milk ducts, many women focus on breast growth, usually around one or two cup sizes. The breast may itch, tingle and sometimes feel hot and swollen. Also a feeling of tension and sensitivity to even light touches can occur. Significant enlargement of the breasts is noted by many women between the sixth and eighth weeks. Between the eighth and twelfth weeks, the nipples, and especially the nipples (area around nipples) can become darker and partially straighten up.
Read more on this topic under changes in the nipples during pregnancy
The second trimester of pregnancy describes the fourth to sixth month of pregnancy or the 13th to 28th week of gestation.
The unpleasant symptoms such as itching, tensions and sensitivity to touch decrease in most women and it now shows a slight growth of the breasts. In the second trimester, the breasts of expectant mothers already form a colorless pre-milk as a precursor to breast milk. In part, this foremilk, also called colostrum, already comes out.
It may happen during the second trimester of pregnancy to the formation of the above stretch marks.
aThe third trimester of pregnancy describes the seventh to ninth month of pregnancy or the 29th to the 40th week of gestation.
Even in this time, a continued slight growth of the breasts can show. As the breasts are now actively preparing for the upcoming breastfeeding, they can also become fuller and heavier. Also, a tingling, itching and tightening of the breasts may occur again in the third trimester. Some women will notice breast lumps at this stage of pregnancy, which tend to be soft and slippery and usually not cause for concern. Nevertheless expectant mothers should always seek advice from a gynecologist if they notice lumps in their breasts. After birth, increased release of the hormone prolactin causes milk production and the hormone oxytocin expels the milk. The size of the breast of the expectant mother does not matter, even women with small breasts can breastfeed their child without any problems.
The nipples and nipples also change in the course of pregnancy, but differ from woman to woman. Especially in the first weeks of pregnancy, they can itch, tingle, burn and be very sensitive to touch like the entire breast. Possibly, small cracks occur due to the rapid growth. Fragrance-free, skin-friendly products and possibly slightly moisturizing creams help against the various complaints. From the first trimester of pregnancy, nipples and auricles can get bigger and darker in preparation for future breastfeeding, and the nipples can get a little upright.
The small nodules around the areola are also called Montgomery glands. These are sebaceous and sweat glands, which prevent the nipples from drying out and at the same time establish a connection between the nipples of the mother and the lips of the child during breastfeeding.
Some women have so-called flat or hollow warts. Flat warts do not stand out from the rest of the breast tissue, with hollow warts or nipples, the nipples are directed inward and appear invaginated. Even women with flat or hollow warts can breastfeed either by the child pulling the nipple out with his mouth or the nipple is stimulated with appropriate aids and prepared for breastfeeding. In any case, the expectant mother can contact a breastfeeding consultant if she has any questions and receive appropriate advice and support.