Looks like you’ve discovered the first big thing in pregnancy: your breasts. While bellies don’t usually do much growing until the second trimester, breasts often begin their expansion within weeks of conception, gradually working their way through the bra cup alphabet (you may ultimately end up three cups bigger than you started out). Fueling this growth are those surging hormones—the same ones that boost your bust premenstrually but at much greater levels. Fat is building up in your breasts, too, and blood flow to the area is increasing. And there’s a swell reason for all this swelling—your breasts are gearing up to feed your baby when he or she arrives.
In addition to their expanding size, you will probably notice other changes to your breasts. The areola (pigmented area around the nipple) will darken, spread, and may be spotted with even darker areas. This darkening may fade but not disappear entirely after birth. The little bumps you may notice on the areola are lubrication glands, which become more prominent during pregnancy and return to normal afterward. The complex road map of blue veins that traverses the breasts—often vivid on a fair-skinned woman and sometimes not even noticeable on darker women—represents a mother-to-baby delivery system for nutrients and fluids. After delivery—or, if you’re breastfeeding, sometimes after baby’s weaned—the skin’s appearance will return to normal.
Fortunately, that cup sizes gain won’t continue to come with pain (or uncomfortablesensitivity). Though your breasts will probably keep growing throughout your nine months, they’re not likely to stay tender to the touch past the third and fourth month. Some women find that the tenderness eases well before that. In the achy meantime, find relief in cool or warm compresses (whichever is more soothing).
As for whether or not your breasts will end up sagging, a lot of that’s up to genetics (if your mom drooped, you may, too), but some of it’s up to you. Sagging results not just from pregnancy itself but from a lack of support during pregnancy. No matter how firm your breasts are now, protect them for the future by wearing a supportive bra. If your breasts are particularly large or have a tendency to sag, it’s a good idea to wear a bra even at night. You’ll probably find a cotton sports bra most comfortable for sleeping.
Not all women notice pronounced breast changes early in pregnancy, and some find theexpansion takes place so gradually that it’s not perceptible. As with all things pregnancy, what’s normal is what’s normal for your breasts. And don’t worry: Though slower growth– or less substantial growth—means you won’t have to replace bras so often, it won’t have any impact on your ability to breastfeed.