Your breasts go through a lot of changes during and after pregnancy. These changes vary from woman to woman and being breast aware can be particularly difficult because of normal changes to your breasts in this time. Our updated booklet Breast changes during and after pregnancy details some of these changes and problems that may occur.

During pregnancy

Your breasts go through changes during pregnancy as your body prepares for feeding a baby. They may be tender and get bigger. You should make sure you are wearing a well-fitting bra to avoid discomfort. Our handy guide Your guide to a well-fitting bra shows you how your bra should fit. Breast lumps sometimes occur during pregnancy and you should get any new breast lump checked by your GP. The vast majority of these will be benign (not cancer). Breast cancer in women of child-bearing age is uncommon and even less common during pregnancy

After birth

After the baby is born your breasts will start to leak milk. Whether or not you breastfeed is entirely your decision.

A mother and her child in the park

It’s not unusual to experience some problems with your breasts when your milk comes in and in the first few weeks afterwards. If you breastfeed and your baby doesn’t latch on correctly you may get sore or cracked nipples. You can ask for support and advice from your midwife if feeding is painful or you are finding it difficult. If your baby takes less milk from the breast when feeding than you are producing you breasts may become overfull. This can also happen later on when there is a longer time between feeds. Your midwife will be able to show you how to express the milk by hand or use a breast pump which may be useful.

Our booklet Breast changes during and after pregnancy has more information about possible problems and coping with them.

It’s likely that your breasts will have changed compared with before pregnancy. Take some time to get to know how your breasts now look and feel so you can be aware of any new changes. You can find out more about breast awareness in our Your breasts your health throughout your life booklet and download the updated Breast changes during and after pregnancy now.