Breast changes during pregnancy

You'll notice some changes in your breasts as your body gets ready for breastfeeding your baby.

Changes to breasts during pregnancy

Early stage

Your pregnancy hormones cause normal breast tissue to change into milk-producing tissue. This change happens as early as the first trimester (week 1 to week 12).

Early on in the pregnancy, you may notice a tingling sensation in your breasts, and your breasts may feel tender and sore. This is due to increasing levels of the hormone progesterone.

Later stage

As your pregnancy progresses, your nipples and the areola (the area around the nipples) may darken in colour.

The veins on the surface of your breasts may become more noticeable. You may also notice stretch marks on your breasts.

From about 16 weeks your breasts are ready to start producing milk. This is colostrum (first milk). It's yellow in colour and is sometimes called 'liquid gold'.

In the last few weeks of pregnancy, your nipples and your breasts become larger.

When to see your GP

Blood from nipples

Sometimes blood may leak from your nipples. This may be normal - but it's very important to see your GP if you notice blood-stained nipple discharge.

Breast lumps

You can sometimes get breast lumps during pregnancy. Most of the time, these are benign and caused by hormonal changes.

Breast cancer is uncommon in younger women and uncommon during pregnancy. But you should always get breast lumps checked by your GP.

If you have an existing lump that changes during pregnancy, get this checked too.


Always get new breast lumps or existing lumps that have changed checked by your GP

Preparing for breastfeeding

Your breasts get ready during pregnancy by making milk for your baby. There is nothing extra you need to do to prepare your body for breastfeeding.

You can read practical tips for breastfeeding to help you build your confidence. These tips can also help you to know what to expect when feeding your new baby.

Visit a breastfeeding group

Some women find it helpful to visit a breastfeeding support group during pregnancy. You can meet other new mothers and hear about their experiences.

Ask your midwife, public health nurse, GP practice nurse or GP if you have any questions about breastfeeding.

Healthy eating

A health diet and normal fluid intake is important when you're breastfeeding. You don't need to follow a specific diet.

Pregnancy bras

As your breasts grow you should make sure your bra is well-fitting and not too tight.

To find a well-fitting bra, make sure:

  • it isn't too tight or loose
  • the strap at the back doesn't cut in
  • your breasts fill the fabric of the cup with no loose fabric - there should also be no bulging over the top, at the sides or underneath
  • the shoulder straps stay in place without digging in
  • the strap around the back and the front underband lies close to your body and is roughly at the same level

You can buy good quality bras in maternity shops. Assistants will help you to find the right fit. You can also buy maternity bras online.

Page last reviewed: 17 September 2018
Next review due: 17 September 2021