Changes in Your Breasts and Milk ProductionThroughout your pregnancy and right after delivery, you will be changes in your breast and milk production. Here’s what you can expect:
During PregnancyBreast changes
Breasts become larger and tender with darkening of the areola (the dark area around the nipple) due to increased levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Women who have darker complexions may notice more pronounced pigmentation.
Milk-producing glands become larger and greater in number during pregnancy, and begin producing colostrum (first milk) early in pregnancy. You may experience some leaking in the third trimester.
After DeliveryBreast changes
At first, you probably will not notice any changes in your breasts, but don't worry; you are making all the milk your baby needs. After a few days, your breasts will feel fuller and heavier, a sure sign that you are making more milk.
Milk production is directly related to the frequency of nursing. In other words, the more often your baby nurses, the more milk you produce. Stimulation of the breast during breastfeeding or pumping releases a hormone called prolactin from the anterior pituitary gland. Prolactin stimulates the milk secreting cells in the breast to produce milk. The levels of prolactin begin to drop about three hours after breastfeeding. When you breastfeed frequently, it keeps the hormone levels high, ensuring you have plenty of milk for your baby.
Updated June 6, 2016