Understanding breast changes

Breast changes are one of the first signs of pregnancy. As pregnancy progresses, breasts continue changing. Here’s what can happen to your breasts during each trimester and afterwards.


Increases in hormone production make breasts feel different. Common changes include:

• Increased tenderness and sensitivity

• Breasts feel fuller and heavier Some women find wearing a more supportive bra (like a sports bra) improves comfort.


Increased estrogen and progesterone levels cause milk-producing glands in breasts to grow. That and overall weight gain, lead to increased breast size.

Other changes may include:

• Nipple tenderness (although overall tenderness may lessen)

• Nipple darkening

• Stretch marks and itching

A supportive bra is key—probably in a larger size than you wore during your first trimester.

Moisturizers help reduce itchiness, though not always stretch marks. (Don’t worry: They fade over time .) Bio-Oil, on the other hand, works to hydrate skin and relieve itchiness as well as improve the appearance of stretch marks.


As you enter the homestretch, your body prepares for breastfeeding. By now you’ve gained almost 1kg of breast tissue.

Final changes your breasts undergo include:

• More growth.

• Possible colostrum leakage.(Colostrum is a nutrient-dense yellowish fluid that nourishes your baby for the first few days after birth.)

Wear a supportive bra, and move up another size if that improves comfort.

If leaking colostrum is a problem, wear Johnson’s Nursing Pads in your bra. They are discreet and super absorbent.


Immediate post-delivery breast changes are minimal. A couple of days later, however, your milk comes in and breasts become engorged as well as:

• Heavy and swollen

• Tender and/or sore

• Leaky (stock up on nursing pads)

The best ways to get relief are:

• Breastfeeding

• Using a breast pump

• Cold washcloths or ice packs

• Warm baths or showers

• Taking an over-the-counter (OTC) pain relief medication. Motherisk (a research program that provides information on the safety of drugs and exposures during pregnancy and lactation, at the Hospital For Sick Children, in Toronto), considers ibuprofen and acetaminophen, taken as directed by your doctor, to be safe for breastfeeding mothers.

If you need help choosing an appropriate OTC pain relief medication, your Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacist can help.