Breast Changes

Your Breasts

Your body prepares for breastfeeding while you are pregnant. Most breasts grow in size during the first few months of pregnancy as milk making structures develop. Some women find that, as breasts get bigger, they feel more comfortable wearing a good supportive bra. Your nipple and the dark area around the nipple, the areola, may increase in size and the colour becomes darker. Small glands on your areola that look like pimples protrude more during pregnancy. These glands release an oily fluid that lubricates and protects the nipples. Before you give birth, preparing your nipples for breastfeeding is not necessary. Rubbing or toughening your nipples removes the natural oils that protect your nipples.

Milk will be made in your breasts whether or not you breastfeed. After your baby is born the milk-making hormone, prolactin, sends a signal to the milk producing cells to start making milk. The hormone prolactin also helps you to feel calm and relaxed. Frequent breastfeeding helps to build up a good milk supply.

If you are not breastfeeding your body will gradually stop producing milk. Wearing a well-fitted supportive bra will help you feel more comfortable as your body adjusts.

While in the hospital or at your Mother/Baby Wellness appointment, you will be given a brochure entitled "Breast-feeding: A Good Beginning", with information on feeding and breast care.

Breast Engorgement

Breast engorgement should be treated early so you will continue to have enough milk to feed your baby.

Symptoms can last2 - 10 days
WhereBoth Breasts
SwellingAll over breast and under arms
HeatAll over breast and under arms
PainAll over breasts
How breasts look and feelHard and lumpy
Tight and sometimes itchy
Skin may look shiny
Nipples look flat
Body temperature38.4°C (101° F)


  1. Try to soften your breasts first. This will help your baby to latch 
    - Remove milk from the breast. You can hand express or use a breast pump (no longer than 10 minutes) 
    - Between feeds put icy compresses and/or clean, refrigerated cabbage leaves on your breasts for 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Try to latch your baby on each breast. If your baby will not latch after 5-10 minutes, try the other breast.
  3. If you are still engorged and baby cannot latch: 
    - Pump breasts with a hospital grade electric breast pump. It is best to pump both breasts at the same time. Call your local hospital or health unit for information on breast pumps and rentals 
    - After pumping your breasts for 15 - 20 minutes, try to latch your baby. 
    - If your baby will not latch, feed your expressed breastmilk to your baby. 
    - If in 24 - 48 hours your engorgement is not improving, please see your health care provider. 
    - Continue to offer breast frequently.

For more information on breastfeeding including electric breast pump rentals and supportive web sites, please visit Baby's Feeding.