Nipples in pregnancy: how do they change, what happens?

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Marie-Ange Demory
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Nipples in pregnancy: what happens?

The breast is the part of the body that gives the first signals when a woman is pregnant. Tension in the breasts, enlargement, change of the areola and the nipple itself are completely normal when a woman is pregnant.





But, concretely, what happens to the nipples in pregnancy? How should a woman take care of it? And what to do in case of discomfort and pain? Let's find out everything in this guide.

In this article

  • How nipples change in pregnancy
  • Nipples in pregnancy: most common symptoms
  • Nipple pain in pregnancy
  • How to take care of pregnant nipples
  • The release of colostrum in pregnancy: from what month

How nipples change in pregnancy

The breast in pregnancy changes from multiple points of view, external and internal. Among the first things that are noticed, since the first quarter, are the increase in volume, the tension and the areola surrounding the nipple darkening. In some cases, from the first months the surface i Montgomery tubercles.



The production of prolactin and hormones, specifically estrogen, progesterone and growth hormone, modifies the breasts. The first phase of changes that the breast and therefore also the nipples undergo in the first quarter (and up to the fifth month) is called kinetogenic. 

Already at this time the galottophoric ducts (those that will produce breast milk) begin to develop and branch and the blood supply to the breast increases. Glandular tissue increases, adipose tissue decreases, this is why the breast ei nipples become particularly sensitive pregnant. 

In the second and especially in the third trimester, then, it is normal for the nipples to start producing small drops of colostrum, the yellowish fluid called "liquid gold" that precedes the milky rise.

Nipples in pregnancy: most common symptoms

From the beginning of pregnancy, therefore, the nipples undergo changes and can cause discomfort. Let's see what are the most common symptoms:



  • breast tension
  • volume increase
  • darkening areola
  • swollen breast
  • Montgomery's tubercles appeared
  • itchy nipples
  • pain in the nipples
  • colostrum output

Nipple pain in pregnancy

Breast pain is quite common in pregnancy, as early as a week or two after conception. It is undoubtedly an annoying sensation that peaks in the first trimester of gestation. This is, in fact, the period in which the woman is full of hormones, in particular estrogen and progesterone.

The breast grows in size, changes internally, prepares for breastfeeding. The blood flow causes the increase of breasts and nipples and all this can inevitably create discomfort in the pregnant woman.

In addition, itching, skin irritation, burning on the nipples are often added to the pain. All annoyances that subside in the second and third trimesters.

How to take care of pregnant nipples

To soothe the pain in the nipples and breasts that many women experience in the first months of gestation, there are several effective methods:

  • application of a natural oil (also the same one used to avoid the appearance of stretch marks)
  • buy suitable bras: it is good to choose a model that hugs the breast well, that does not tighten and that does not have underwire or seams that irritate or leave marks. There are many comfortable bras on the market that you can wear even at night for maximum comfort
  • wear comfortable clothes: the usual clothes, the usual underwear are not suitable for pregnancy. The breasts must feel free, the skin must breathe. In this way all the hassles will decrease
  • make a cold compress to regain relief
  • take a hot shower to relax muscles and breast tenderness

The release of colostrum in pregnancy: from what month

Initially we were talking about the so-called kinetogenic phase that is the phase of change that affects the breast up to the fifth month. Subsequently we enter the so-called colostrogenic phase, that is the moment in which the milk ducts produce the first colostrum.

Colostrum it is a yellowish liquid, rather dense and rich in antibodies useful to the newborn immediately after birth, essential for strengthening its immune defenses. The expectant woman can see them come out of her nipples as early as the second trimester of pregnancy. It is a completely normal phenomenon and there is absolutely no need to worry, on the contrary: it is the signal that everything is proceeding for the best and that the woman is preparing for breastfeeding. The colostrum, in fact, anticipates the milk whipping, therefore the production of real milk.

In the event that the losses are frequent, you can start putting on nursing pads, the same ones that the expectant mother will use during breastfeeding.



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