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Puffy Nipples And Leaking Milk: The Surprising Ways Your Breasts Change In Pregnancy

Pregnancy is full of surprises, and a fair few affect your breasts. Welcome to the world of puffy nipples, leaks and much bigger bras...

When you’re pregnant, you’ll have hormones flying around all over the place which, amongst other things, has a big impact on your boobs. In fact, they only complete their full development when you’ve experienced pregnancy.

Sore boobs

If this is your first pregnancy, you’re probably wincing when you put on your bra as your breasts will no doubt be quite sore for the first few weeks – one of the first clues that you’re pregnant.

The most tender part is probably your nipples, because of the increased levels of the hormone progesterone and the growth of the milk ducts. Even cold temperatures may cause your nipples to tingle, so try to keep them warm.

Trade in your usual bra for one that isn’t underwired and is designed for pregnancy and encourage your partner to keep his hands off your chest, until the pain subsides.


Bigger breasts in pregnancy

Your breasts will obviously grow bigger during your pregnancy (think of it as a free temporary boob job). Throughout your pregnancy, you’ll probably find that your cup size will increase by at least one and possibly two sizes. If you have additional breast tissue, you may also find that this growth may extends up into your armpit.

‘This growing can cause your breasts to become really itchy,’ says Dr Dib Datta, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist. ‘This is because the skin is stretching and can mean that you are left with stretch marks.’ Avoid this by using oils and creams that are designed to fight against stretch marks and pregnancy scarring. 


Changes in breast appearance

As you get further into your pregnancy, your nipples and the areola (the area surrounding the nipple) may darken noticeably. Your nipples may become puffy and swollen looking.

Don’t stress if your breasts start to resemble roadmaps as the veins on the surface become more noticeable. This is perfectly normal and due to the increased supply of blood to your breasts.


Leaking milk

By the time you’re around 16 weeks pregnant, your nipples may start to leak.

‘Your breasts might secrete colostrum, a thick and yellowish fluid,’ Dr Datta explains. ‘This is the first type of milk that you’ll produce and is completely normal.’

Simply pop a breast pad inside your bra to avoid an embarrassing wardrobe faux pas when the leaking occurs.


You may spot small amounts of blood leaking from the nipple. While this is common – it’s just happening because of the sudden growth of blood vessels – it’s best to get this checked by your GP.

Lumps in your breasts

Finding a lump in your breast is scary, but during pregnancy this is often nothing to worry about and has only developed because of all the hormones in your body.

Usually, pregnancy breast lumps are cysts of some description. The most common cysts are fluid-filled sacs, but galatoceles (milk-filled cysts) and fibroadenomas (fibrous tissue) can also occur during pregnancy.

Get your lump checked out by your GP, who will be able to tell you if it needs treatment or not. 

Maternity bra shopping list:


Want to know what other body changes to expect when pregnant? Here are some more to look out for!

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