All the ways your boobs may change during pregnancy and postpartum
We’ve all heard the stories about how breasts change during pregnancy… I mean, we know they get bigger, right? But just how much bigger? And when? Do they stay big forever? (We see you, hopeful A-cuppers 🙏🏿) Pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum ask so much of a woman’s body – and reveal it to be pretty damn badass (#superwoman). And because their primary purpose is to produce milk to feed babies – not to mention the way they are affected by our hormones, our boobs are at the centre of our body metamorphous during babymaking and beyond.
So that you know what to expect – and don’t get freaked out by stinging nipples and rock-hard boobs when your milk comes in, we’ve partnered with Triumph to put together all the ways your boobs may change during pregnancy and postpartum. Yep, legit secret women’s business… (sshhh…)
Boobs during pregnancy
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Tender and even swollen boobs are often one of the first signs of pregnancy. During your first trimester, your breasts might start to feel swollen and tender, and your nipples may even begin to stick out more than usual (welcome to motherhood!). For women who’ve been trying to get pregnant, this is normally a welcome sign.
Another common thing that can happen to boobs during pregnancy is that the areolas (the skin around nipples) can suddenly become darker – and even grow larger and bumpier than usual. That’s because of the growth of small glands called Montgomery’s tubercles that are preparing to secrete an oily substance to protect your nipples from becoming dry and cracked once you’ve given birth and start to breastfeed.
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The good news is that in the second trimester you’re likely to feel less boob tenderness and tingling. What you probably will notice though is that just as your belly grows, your breasts will get larger and heavier (hello A-cuppers!). And as your breasts grow, they might also become veiny – but don’t worry, these bumps will most likely go away after you have your baby.
At some point, you’ll probably feel like you’re growing out of your pre-preggers bras, and need to shop for new ones. Because your boobs will continue to grow in the third trimester, when you’re shopping for new bras, it’s a good idea to either go up a full size or buy a bra that will allow you to grow some more into it.
Another less disclosed second-trimester boob experience is the yellowish discharge, called colostrum, that might extract from your nipples. Although this isn’t terribly common and can seem freaky at first, it just means that your breasts are getting ready for breastfeeding. Nothing to see here!
Tip: You can use reusable/washable breast pads inside your bra to soak up leaks.
Home run, baby! Well, almost… The third trimester can feel like it’s going on forever, and your breasts will grow more, and will probably feel even heavier.
If you haven’t had colostrum leaking from your breasts before now, it might start at some point in the third trimester – normally toward the end. Whether you leak or not has nothing to do with your ability to breastfeed.
If you haven’t bought new bras yet, you’ll probably be ready to do so by now – or well overdue! By this stage in your pregnancy, you will be looking for comfort and support all the way…! Triumph’s Fit Smart Bra Top is wirefree and features 4D stretch lace and padding that adapt to your body and feel super soft on your skin.
Boobs right after birth
Your boobs are going to feel a whole new level of strange right after birth… It’s common – and natural – for a newborn baby to independently find its mother’s breast and begin sucking, just moments after birth. (If it happens to you, it will rock your world!) Skin to skin can encourage this natural phenomenon. As your breast milk won’t have come in yet, your baby will be drinking colostrum, a yellow-ish nutrient-rich “pre-milk” (thick for some, thin for others), for the first few days of their life.
The first 24-48 hours of breastfeeding can be really hard on your boobs. After all, they’ve never fulfilled their utilitarian purpose until now, and all of a sudden, a tiny person is sucking them for dear life – every few hours… Yep, ouch.
While it’s normal to find breastfeeding uncomfortable in the early days, if you’re really struggling, it’s important that you see a lactation consultant within the first 24-48 hours of childbirth as they will be able to help you and your baby with the correct feeding positions and latch. Missing this window of time to get help can prove problematic for new mothers and their breastfeeding journeys. Most hospitals will provide lactation support – don’t wait for it to be offered to you, ask!
When your newborn is a few days old, your breasts will start to make milk – this is referred to as your ‘milk coming in’. When this happens, your breasts may swell with so much milk, they can feel painful – AKA ‘engorgement’. In fact, it’s normal for new mums to endure engorgement and cracked, sore nipples all at once, which can make each feed, um… a challenge…
Our suggestions to get through this early discomfort are:
See a lactation consultant to make sure your baby is latching correctly.
Rub breast milk or nipple cream over your nipples after your baby feeds, then let them air-dry.
Massage your engorged boobs in a warm shower and try alternating ice and heat breast packs. Wet, warm towels can work too!
The cool thing is that once your baby feeds, breast pain and swelling often ease, as your ducts have been emptied. Breastfeeding works on a supply and demand system, and it can take your body a few days/weeks to figure out how much milk to make, based on how much your baby eats before you get some relief.
On top of all of these boob changes and challenges, you will also be dealing with very, very large boobs… This is relative, of course, to the size they were pre-pregnancy. But now is the time your boobs will be the biggest they will likely ever be (plastic surgery excluded!)
Also, because you’ll be breastfeeding on tap, you will need a few comfy nursing bras. Triumph’s Amour Maternity Lace Bra provides soft, wire-free comfort, and contains magnet latches providing swift, easy access.
Breastfeeding boss boobs
Now you’re in the swing of things, and, if you’re able and decided to, you’re breastfeeding like a boss. By now both the sore nipples and engorged, swollen boobs will have calmed down, and you and your babe are in the breastfeeding swing of things. Your boobs won’t be as big as they were in the week after childbirth, and will likely stay the size they are now for some time – while you continue regular breastfeeding.
We recommend Investing in some great, supportive and soft nursing bras for this stage.
Post breastfeeding boobs
Yep. Your mum was right. Post breastfeeding boobs are a thing – unless you’ve got sensational boob genes. Kind of like the mechanics of a balloon, repetitive breastfeeding and pumping over a long period of time (let’s say, approximately 12 months) will likely result in a deflated boob after the fact. Basically, when you have fully weaned from breastfeeding, your milk ducts are no longer filling with milk, which may lead to a smaller volume of breast tissue. In some cases, a woman’s breast skin will tighten to suit their new breast size, for other women, there isn’t enough elasticity for the tightening to happen.
But don’t be hard on yourself. Learning to love your post-baby body is part of the motherhood journey. Be proud of the many miracles your body has undergone and achieved to bring a new human into this world!
At this stage, your boobs will likely return to the same or slightly smaller size than they were pre-pregnancy and breastfeeding – with a touch of gravity thrown in for good measure! While you may be lucky enough to return to your old bras, many women feel like their body and breasts have changed since then and need a bra wardrobe update. Plus, your body has just climbed Mount Everest (metaphorically but not really) – so why not splash out on a new bra!
Triumph’s Gorgeous Luxury T-Shirt Bra looks fab under everything, and will provide your boobs with the support, shape and oomph they need.
Yep, boobs are a big deal when you embark on baby-making. But just because they will change – expand, sting, engorge, feed, wean and contract – doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be loved and *supported* along the whole journey. After all, to bring a human into this world, our bodies bear the brunt – and are truly miraculous. From carrying a baby in utero for 9 months, birthing it and then feeding and sustaining it, our bodies are the true testament to our superhuman strength. Love those girls, ‘cos those girls are with you for life!
This is a paid partnership between Kiindred x Triumph.
Viva Bianca Follow +
Viva is a writer, editor and mum (AKA professional snack bitch) – and not in that order. With a background in film, feminism and culture journalism, Viva brings her curiosity for storytelling to her role as Culture & Lifestyle Editor at Kiindred, and loves offering advice and tit-bits to other parents - it takes a village!
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