Breast Changes During Pregnancy: How Your Body Prepares for Breastfeeding

As you await the arrival of your baby, you will expe­ri­ence many dif­fer­ent changes in your body. You might crave some foods — or be absolute­ly grossed out by oth­ers. Your bel­ly will expand as your baby grows, and you may find your­self need­ing to use the bath­room more.

All of these changes are nor­mal and are part of how your body sup­ports your baby through­out your preg­nan­cy. Some changes in your body aren’t for your baby now but are meant to sup­port them later.

Through­out your preg­nan­cy, you will expe­ri­ence some breast changes. These changes are to help your body pre­pare to nurse your new­born and you may be sur­prised how ear­ly you start notic­ing them. Here are 3 ways your body is get­ting ready to breast­feed — and 3 ways you can pre­pare, too.

1. Your Breasts Become Fuller

Ear­ly in your preg­nan­cy, you might notice that your breasts become fuller and more ten­der than before. It might seem like it’s too ear­ly for changes in your body around the fifth or sixth week, but even then, your hor­mones are telling your body a baby is on the way. Through­out your preg­nan­cy, your breasts will con­tin­ue to grow in shape — even the kinds of tis­sue in your breasts will change. What is gen­er­al­ly fat­ty and sup­port­ive tis­sue, becomes glan­du­lar tis­sue which allows you to pro­duce milk and nurse your baby.

Want to learn more about the changes your body is mak­ing to pre­pare for breast­feed­ing? Then take a pre­na­tal breast­feed­ing class with one of our cer­ti­fied lac­ta­tion consultants!

2. Your Are­o­las Become Big­ger and Darker

Dur­ing preg­nan­cy, you might notice that your nip­ples and the are­o­lae around them become larg­er or dark­er in col­or. These changes are meant to help your baby while breast­feed­ing, by being able to find your nip­ple more eas­i­ly. Your baby’s vision at birth won’t be ful­ly devel­oped, and the col­or dif­fer­ence between your skin and your dark­en­ing nip­ple makes a big dif­fer­ence in their abil­i­ty to locate and latch effectively. 

You may also notice your nip­ples pro­duc­ing some of your first milk before your baby actu­al­ly arrives. Your body is able to pro­duce milk by the end of your sec­ond trimester, so you might notice some light yel­low or orange stain­ing inside your bra.

3. There Are More Bumps on Your Areolas

Anoth­er change in your body dur­ing preg­nan­cy is an increase in the num­ber of small bumps on your are­o­las, known as Mont­gomery’s glands. These bumps play an impor­tant role in breast­feed­ing by emit­ting oils that lubri­cate and pro­tect the nip­ples, pre­vent­ing them from dry­ing out and crack­ing. Because of these impor­tant oils, avoid wash­ing your nip­ples with soap or using dis­in­fec­tants which can dry out your skin. Rinse only with warm water.

How You Can Pre­pare for Breast­feed­ing, Too

While your body has already start­ed get­ting ready for breast­feed­ing while preg­nant, there are also ways you can pre­pare, too. Tak­ing steps to get ready for breast­feed­ing can help you feel con­fi­dent in your choic­es and your ability.

1. Attend a Pre­na­tal Breast­feed­ing Class 

Before your baby arrives, you can take a pre­na­tal breast­feed­ing class with a Duly lac­ta­tion con­sul­tant. In a pre­na­tal breast­feed­ing class, you can learn latch­ing and posi­tion­ing tech­niques, how your body pro­duces milk, how to pump and store milk, and so much more. Even if you aren’t sure if you plan to breast­feed or know you don’t want to, a pre­na­tal breast­feed­ing class can still help you learn about the dif­fer­ent changes in your body and your options for feed­ing after your baby arrives.

2. Set Up Your Home for Breastfeeding 

Prepar­ing your home for breast­feed­ing can make your jour­ney smoother and more enjoy­able once your baby arrives. Con­sid­er invest­ing in a breast pump, a help­ful tool that allows you to express milk and cre­ate a stash for times when you’re away or need a break. Many health insur­ers cov­er the cost of a breast pump, but you may need a pre­scrip­tion from your OB/GYN.

You can also set up a com­fort­able breast­feed­ing sta­tion in your home, with pil­lows, a nurs­ing chair, and even a side table for essen­tials like water, snacks, and burp cloths. Cre­at­ing a calm nurs­ery envi­ron­ment can make your and your baby’s breast­feed­ing expe­ri­ence bet­ter. You can also stock up on breast­feed­ing sup­plies such as nurs­ing bras, breast pads, and lano­lin cream for nip­ple care. 

3. Build Your Sup­port System

Most impor­tant­ly, sur­round your­self with a sup­port net­work of friends, fam­i­ly, and lac­ta­tion con­sul­tants who can be with you and pro­vide guid­ance and encour­age­ment on your breast­feed­ing journey. 

Health Topics:

  • Michelle Szwedo, MD, Bloomingdale OBGYN

    I aspire to deliver excellent, kind, and thorough care for women across their lives.