What Are Breast Changes During Pregnancy?

From the first weeks after conception, women often complain about breast tenderness and pain. In the beginning, the pain can be attributed to the sudden increase in progesterone and estrogen. As the pregnancy reaches later stages, milk production and the activation of milk ducts can be to blame. Breasts can grow to be one, two or three cups sizes larger during pregnancy. Women who are carrying their first baby often see more dramatic growth. During this time, the woman will need to buy a few new bras to hold in those growing breasts. The first new bras should not be nursing bras if breastfeeding. Growth does not stop until the end of pregnancy, so spending extra money on nursing bras in the second trimester will just be a waste by the time baby is born.

Progesterone is the hormone responsible for the changes in breast tissue during early pregnancy. This hormone helps the breasts grow larger in order to hold the supply of milk needed to nourish the newborn. The progesterone also increases the size of the alveoli. These branched ducts are very similar to the ducts of the lungs, but instead of air, the alveoli hold the milk while the ducts move the milk to the nipple of the breast. While the progesterone is responsible for the breast enlargement it is the estrogen that enlarges the ducts that will carry the milk to the areola and eventually into baby's tummy. The estrogen will also increase the size of the areola which may darken in color as the pregnancy progresses.

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