Oh my!! Did you have any idea your boobs would change this much?! It happens as soon as you discover you’re pregnant. In fact, the change in your breasts, may just be the first sign that you are pregnant. Let’s have a look at our lady lumps a little closer, and really understand what’s going on in our bodies and why these changes are all fabulous (all be it a little uncomfortable/awkward at times).
1. During pregnancy
Those hormones are having a party, and your boobs are ready to join in on the celebrations!
Your hormone production really is going crazy. Your increase of blood flow through the tissue of the breasts makes them swollen and tender. For a small-breasted woman, you might be welcoming this ‘party’ in all its glory, enjoying deep V neck blouses and fitted tops perhaps for the first time. For the fuller breasted woman, this may just be your worst nightmare. Swollen, tender boobs usually last through the entirety of the first trimester of pregnancy. They’ll be impressive to the gaze, but possibly off-limits to the touch!
Your best chaperone to this ‘party’, will be a well-fitted maternity bra. Don’t be afraid to move into these bras earlier than expected, as the changes happen quickly in pregnancy. You’ll be waaayyy more comfortable if those gals are firmly supported! So, look for cleverly designed bras.
Bras that have extension hooks and that stretch up to three cup sizes are the ‘go’ - (I know! but it will happen, so best just go with it).
Your skin on your breasts may begin to display blue veins, the increase in blood flow becomes obvious. Your breasts may even be itchy, due to the skin beginning to stretch a little to accommodate all of these changes. You may even be lucky enough to develop stretch marks ;)
As well as those breasts growing, your nipples will also get darker and bigger and you will develop Montgomery’s tubercles (these are the oil-producing glands that look like little bumps on your areola). If you weren’t expecting these gate-crashers - Surprise!
Oh! and don’t forget your breast pads!! Your boobs are likely to be cheekily leaking during those last few months of pregnancy. You may notice some colostrum. I know, it’s a little shocking but in fact, it IS fabulous. The show’s all is headed in the right direction for successful breastfeeding in the months ahead.
2. Early breastfeeding - when milk supply increases
A few days after your baby is born, your boobs will become even fuller and heavier! This is when you look in the mirror and are amazed by the boob-job that’s been performed on you, overnight. Shaa-wing!
This increase in size and shape is caused by an increase (again) of blood supply and highlights your milk ‘coming in’. As your breasts increase in size, the ligaments that support them may stretch. It’s this stretching that may lead to slightly saggier breasts. Contrary to popular belief, this change will happen regardless of whether or not you choose to breastfeed your bub.
If you’re worried about the stretch of these ligaments at all, the best thing you can do is support those boobs with a comfortable and well-fitted bra. Bras with no seams, and a cross-over style, offer comfort and good support. Look for that all-important one-handed flip-down clip too.
Maternity bras that use the anti-bacterial fabric is just common sense. Because our breasts are warm and our nipples are leaking nourishing, moist food product, it’s the best breeding ground for nasties. Eradicate the likelihood of these, by buying well.
3. Supply balance (after the intro of solid food)
Once you’ve been feeding for around 15 months, your breasts will stabilize a little and will most likely appear, similar to that of their pregnancy state. When you return to your pre-pregnancy weight, your breasts will probably return to their pre-pregnancy size, too, although some say their boobs get a little bigger or a little smaller. Take your pick?… we wish.
Your breasts may not be quite as perky as they were before, particularly immediately after you've stopped feeding. But the good news is that the fatty tissue will gradually replace the milk-producing tissue in your breasts and will leave your breasts feeling fuller again.
You might be dreaming of ditching those feeding bras at this stage (no matter how supportive these friends have been!), but in fact, you’ll still need them, even if you’re down to five or so feeds, (with the intro of solids). However, there is a small (but growing - thank goodness), selection of pretty feeding bras. You’ll still need to keep the above in mind though. Look for a flexi-wire bra range that offers the continued ease and access for breastfeeding, and make you look cute too.
And if you're still feeding and have a special occasion to go to…. or just want to feel a bit more like your former self (that will return btw!), you can ‘cheat’ a little by looking at some shapewear. Combine these little beauties with that feeding bra… and you’ll be wearing a couple of little secrets that no one will be the wiser about. ‘You look fabulous!’, they’ll say. And you will.
It can be hard to imagine just how much our breasts will morph along the journey into motherhood. Those breasts serve us bountifully. So, raise a glass to those ‘faithful friends’, who do us (and our babies), proud! And, no matter the change, embrace them as best you can (even if you need to cheat, a little along the way)…. and party on!
Mum of six fabulous kids and foster-mum to numerous others. Event manager, doula, childbirth educator, lactation counselor, owner of Sydney Birth Support, Mamaway Advocate, and an encourager of all mums out there giving it their best crack!