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Your Growing Breasts

If you've always longed for a bigger bust, your wish is about to be granted. Most women's breasts swell an entire cup size during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, and you can expect to gain at least two cup sizes by the time you deliver your baby. In fact, your breasts will ultimately account for 2 pounds of your pregnancy weight.

Breast sensations in early pregnancy range from a slight, pleasant tingling to such acute discomfort that you wince and pull away when your partner reaches for you. This swelling and sensitivity are due to your body's increased production of estrogen and progesterone, the hormones responsible for increasing the blood flow to your breasts in preparation for nursing.

Your breasts may start to look different too. Within a few weeks, they will probably start to darken around the areolae (the pigmented areas around your nipples) as tiny glands grow and prepare for breastfeeding. These glands secrete a lubricating oil and may start to look bumpy around your nipples. You may also notice a map of blue veins across your breasts, experience occasional shooting pains, or have a persistent throbbing sensation. Most of your discomfort will subside after the 1st trimester. Meanwhile, soothe sore breasts beneath warm (not hot!) showers or compresses. You can also tame aches by wearing a soft, stretchy cotton bra to bed.

Will your breasts look the same after pregnancy? Probably not. However, the amount your breasts sag or suffer from stretch marks is mainly due to genetics, so it's not really worth worrying about. Wearing comfy, supportive, well-fitting bras day and night may help minimize sagging and stretch marks. Staying within the limit of your recommended weight gain will also help because additional excess pounds stretch the skin more.

Originally published in You & Your Baby: Pregnancy.

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