"Almost from the moment of conception, a woman's body starts preparing to breastfeed," says Sharon Mass, MD, a Morristown, New Jersey, ob-gyn and an editor of The Breastfeeding Handbook for Physicians (AAP). "Many women notice changes to their breasts even before they miss a period." So a swelling chest may be your first cue that you're pregnant.
Right away, the amount of fatty tissue and blood flow to the breasts increases, all to help the milk ducts and mammary glands grow. Most women experience increased tenderness as their breasts get bigger and heavier. The swelling might make veins more noticeable underneath your skin. Another conspicuous effect: Your nipples may stick out more and the areola will begin to get larger and darker, which experts believe serves to guide the baby to the breast. To try to make yourself more comfortable:
- Buy a new, less constricting bra.
- Limit your salt intake to reduce swelling and water retention.
- Grin and bear the tenderness. It's tempting to take over-the-counter pain relievers, but they won't offer much relief and it's best to steer clear of unnecessary medications.