During pregnancy, there are many expected changes in the breast. Most of these changes are normal because your breasts are developing and preparing for its function after childbirth.
You might be expecting breast to grow, become tender and develop bigger nipples. However, don’t be surprised if you suddenly notice that your nipple and areolas (the area around your nipple) are darkening and even becoming larger in size. It is a common pregnancy symptom and starts around the first trimester. These changes are supposed to be due to hormones that affect pigmentation of the skin. Because of the hormones and the fluctuation in their levels, the melanin or the pigment responsible for skin colour begins to increase. Increased Melanin leads to skin getting darker, especially in areas which are already pigmented like areolas and your nipples.
You will also notice little bumps on your breast that encircle the area around your nipple becoming more prominent. These little bumps are called Montgomery glands and they increase in size because they have an important role to play when the baby is born. Montgomery glands produce oily secretions that help to keep the areola and nipple lubricated and protected. Therefore, is it often advised not to wash your nipple/areola area with soap. The oily secretion also contains antimicrobial factors that help prevent germs growing. The glands are of great help when the baby starts to latch on to your breast
In most cases, the changes in the breast are temporary. There is not a lot you can do for the increased pigmentation. As your breasts grow, wear a good supportive bra to help you feel more comfortable. You can even try Cotton sports bra if your breast size increases greatly. Don’t forget to talk to your doctor if you notice any severe symptoms or persistent pain and fever.
Your breasts and nipples might return to pre-pregnancy or closer to pre-pregnancy state following a few months after delivery or when you stop breast feeding. But for some, the dark nipples might stay on longer.