Everything You Need to Know About Areola Breast Changes in Early Pregnancy

June 2, 2023
Priyanka Sonkushre – June 2, 2023
Everything You Need to Know About Areola Breast Changes in Early Pregnancy copy

If you have recently discovered you’re pregnant, congratulations! This is the phase when your mind…

If you have recently discovered you’re pregnant, congratulations! This is the phase when your mind will be filled with thoughts about your growing baby. It is also the time when you’ll start experiencing a multitude of changes in your body. It is natural for new moms to worry about whether the changes they are experiencing are normal or not. But with the correct information, you can ease your worries and enjoy your pregnancy period.

Breast Changes During Early Pregnancy

Talking about changes, one of the most noticeable changes you will experience during early pregnancy and beyond is in your breasts. Your breasts play a significant role in baby rearing as their primary function is to allow you to comfortably breastfeed your baby when they arrive. These breast changes happen in different ways, including variations in the breast’s areola.

Usually, we do not find ourselves thinking or talking about this part of our breasts, but pregnancy sure brings in some significant changes to it, which drive our attention toward it. Today, we will be talking all about areola breast changes to empower you with the right information so you’re not left clueless about this aspect of pregnancy.

Understanding Early Pregnancy Symptoms

Missing their period is probably the first sign of pregnancy most women tend to notice. But even before you miss your period, your body begins its transformation journey to prepare itself for the growing fetus. The likelihood of missing these early signs happens because you experience similar symptoms even when your period is due.

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Now let’s see what early symptoms you can expect when you’re pregnant:

  • Swollen, tingly, and tender breasts
  • Painful nipples
  • Feeling tired
  • Mild cramping
  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Mood swings
  • Morning sickness
  • Back Pain
  • Headaches
  • Headaches
  • Feeling dizzy/ Fainting
  • Peeing more than usual
  • Heightened sensitivity to odors

Although we have listed the possible early signs of pregnancy, it is wise to remember that not all women experience each and every symptom listed above. As every woman’s body is different with different genetic makeup, the symptoms experienced by one woman may be totally different from those experienced by others.

Another crucial point to keep in mind is that the symptoms we have listed not only appear when you’re pregnant. There are several other reasons which manifest these symptoms as well. So, if you feel or experience any of the above symptoms, don’t jump straight to the conclusion that you’re pregnant. Get a pregnancy test done and see your doctor to confirm the same.

What Are Areola Breast Changes?

You sure would have noticed the dark, circular area on your skin surrounding your nipples. Well, that’s the areola we’re talking about. Women have areolas of varied sizes and colors. Typically, areolas are circular or oval in shape and are 1 – 2 inches in diameter. But, if your areolas are smaller or larger, fret not. That’s completely normal too! The color of the areola also varies in women and can be in any shade of red, pink, brown, or beige.

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In addition to shape and color, there’s one more distinct feature of the areola – Montgomery’s tubercles. These are nothing but sebaceous glands present as tiny bumps on the areola. Many of you may get confused and consider them goosebumps (because they perk up when you’re cold). But in actuality, these glands have three very specific jobs to fulfill.

  1. They release natural lubricating oils to keep the nipples and areola moisturized and germ-free.
  2. They create texture around the nipple to facilitate proper latching.
  3. They release a peculiar and subtle scent that guides the newborn toward the nipple for feeding

Now this was about what a typical areola looks like. But in certain situations, you may experience changes in the areola that alter its look and feel. You may notice changes in the areola when your body goes through significant hormonal fluctuations, such as when you hit puberty, during your menstrual cycles, and when you’re breastfeeding.

Remember, these changes are normal and nothing to worry about unless, of course, they’re sudden and drastic and not similar to the changes you usually experience.

Why Do Areola Breast Changes Occur in Early Pregnancy?

From the moment of conception, your body starts releasing a set of hormones that prepare you for pregnancy and help nurture your little one. This rise in hormones is the main reason behind the several changes women undergo when expecting a baby. Changes in areola during early pregnancy and in the following trimesters are also a result of this hormonal surge.

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Estrogen, progesterone, prolactin, and human placental lactogen (HPL) are the four major hormones that play a role right from conception to delivery and during breastfeeding. Of the four, estrogen and progesterone are responsible for increasing pigmentation in areolas.

How Soon Can You Expect To See Changes in Your Areola?

You may observe changes in your areola as early as one or two weeks post-conception. You may find your nipples and the surrounding area, i.e., your areolas turning darker. As your pregnancy progresses and your breasts swell even more, the diameter of your areolas will also get larger.

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The color and texture changes in areolas not only happen during the early pregnancy stage but continue until the second trimester, which is weeks 14-27 of your pregnancy. As time passes, these get larger and darker, with prominent Montgomery glands appearing all around.

Because the changes in your areolas are due to a rise in hormones in your body during pregnancy, there is a high chance your areolas will lighten over time after you stop breastfeeding and the hormones settle down. But more often than not, women are left with areolas that are a shade or two darker than their pre-pregnancy color.

Common Changes in Areola During Early Pregnancy

If you already know you’re pregnant, knowing the common areola breast changes can assure you that the changes you are going through are completely normal and expected. However, if you’ve been trying to conceive and observe these subtle changes in your breasts, it may be time to grab a pregnancy test kit just to be sure if you’ve got any positive news or not.

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So, along with other pregnancy symptoms, here are the areola-related breast changes you may encounter when you have a new life growing in your tummy .

  • Your areolas are larger than before
  • They appear darker and more pigmented
  • You have new bumps (Montgomery tubercles) on your areola
  • The old and new bumps appear more raised and are prominent
  • The skin surrounding the areola may also turn a little darker than usual

As we said before, areola changes vary in individuals, so don’t compare yourself with others. If you have something bothering you, talk to your doctor and get your doubts cleared.

Tips For Managing Areola Breast Changes in Early Pregnancy

While changes in the areola do not necessarily cause any discomfort, other breast changes during pregnancy may cause you some trouble and make you feel uncomfortable. But don’t worry! There are a few hassle-free tips you can follow as a part of your regular routine to minimize the discomfort so you can continue living with ease.

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Here’s what you can do:

  • Your areola enlarges because your breasts get swollen due to the hormonal cascade your body is going through. So, buy a few comfortable bras that can support you without rubbing your tender nipples and areolas.
  • Bathe regularly with warm water and clean your nipples and areolas. Avoid soaps and body washes, which may rip off the natural oils secreted by the tiny lubricating bumps
  • Leave your nipples and areola to air dry or dab gently with a soft towel.
  • You may use a little coconut oil or Vaseline to moisturize your nipples and areolas if you feel any dryness or itching.
  • Use doctor-recommended moisturizer all over your breasts once or twice every day to keep the skin soft and hydrated.
  • If you develop any skin condition on your areolas, for example, eczema or dermatitis, get in touch with your physician so you can get the proper diagnosis and treatment.

When to Consult a Doctor Regarding Changes in Areola?

Normal changes in the areola, such as darkening, increase in size, or the appearance of bumps, are usually not a cause for concern. Most women experience them without any problem. However, if these changes appear in conjunction with the symptoms listed below, you better call your doctor or get an appointment to discuss the issue.

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These are the additional symptoms you should watch out for:

Skin flaking or peeling

Pregnancy is the time that gives rise to many questions and concerns, especially in the minds of first-time parents. With many changes happening in your body, you have to be sure that what you’re experiencing is normal. And the easiest way to get answers to all your questions is to talk to your OB or midwife so you can get back your peace of mind and enjoy your pregnancy period.

Conclusion: Embracing Your Changing Body During Early Pregnancy

As your body goes through many changes throughout your pregnancy, it is important that you welcome and accept these changes. Changes in the areola and others are required to prepare your body for the nine-month-long gestation and the entire time when you will be breastfeeding your young one.

But, don’t let these changes make you feel any less. Your post-pregnancy body will be equally beautiful to your pre-pregnancy state and probably even worthier because it would have given all it takes to nurture your little one and bring them into this world.

  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2761488/
  • https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9998-eczema
  • https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/gland-of-montgomery
  • https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/human-placental-lactogen

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