Breast Pain And Soreness During Pregnancy: Causes And Cure

Breast Pain And Soreness During Pregnancy: Causes And Cure

21 Jun 2022 | 5 min Read

Reema Shah

Author | 340 Articles

Hormonal changes during pregnancy can affect the breasts. While breast pain is most common in the first trimester it may occur at any stage when you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Swollen, sore, and tender breasts along with pain are also one of the first symptoms of pregnancy and conception. Sore breasts and a missed period commonly indicate signs of pregnancy. In some women, the breast pain shows up within 2 weeks of conception.

Most women experience breast pain and soreness even during periods but pregnancy breast pain is different from that. 

How Is Period Pain Different From Pregnancy Breast Pain

Both PMS and pregnancy have some similar effects on the body. A report states that 90%  of all menstruating people develop some symptoms of PMS. It includes tender or swollen breasts and begins to show about 7–14 days before a period starts.

Plus nipples tend to be more sensitive in the case of both PMS and pregnancy. However, soreness and breast pain during pregnancy is more intense and last longer than PMS.

Breast soreness caused by pregnancy can make the veins on the breasts more visible and the areolas also usually get bumpier and larger. Plus, oestrogen and progesterone hormones along with prolactin hormone increase blood flow to the breasts and prepare them for breastfeeding which causes changes in the breast tissue. Prolactin is the hormone responsible to prepare the breasts for lactation

Do a pregnancy test to understand if it is the reason for sore and tender breasts / Credit – Canva

Does Every Woman Get Sore Breasts During Pregnancy?

There are many pregnant women who experience breast changes like bigger breasts, leaky and lumpy breasts along with soreness. However, many women do not experience these changes and that is also normal. 

Not having these changes does not mean that your breasts are not ready to feed your baby or that your pregnancy is not healthy. There are some women who don’t experience major changes during pregnancy.

As your breasts prepare for lactation you may feel discomfort in the breast, which is actually growing pains. The discomfort, soreness and pain come and go over the course of your pregnancy.

When Can Breast Soreness Get Better?

According to Community Expert Dr Pooja Marathe, “These changes occur because of rising hormone levels in the body and increased blood flow to the breast tissue which is an indication of being pregnant. Breast discomfort often subsides after a few weeks, although it may return in the later stages of pregnancy. In addition, breast soreness is one of the earliest signs of pregnancy, and not every woman experiences the same degree of soreness during the early stages of pregnancy. So having no or fleeting breast soreness in early pregnancy should not be interpreted as a sign of miscarriage.”

6 Ways to Relieve Breast Tenderness during Pregnancy

While breast soreness usually eases up as the pregnancy progresses, you can ease the discomfort with these easy steps:

1. Wear a supportive bra that provides full coverage. Larger size bras might be comforting as your breasts tend to get fuller during pregnancy. 

2. Wear loose-fitting clothes as clingy tops can constrict your breasts which expand during pregnancy. Plus, the inside seams can irritate sensitive breasts. Stick with flowy clothing that won’t rub or irritate.

3. Use a cold compress by laying a towel over your chest and applying an ice pack around the area of the breasts. You may also use a frozen bag of peas.

Dr Pooja adds, “To get immediate relief from breast pain, you can use an ice pack. The cold temperature will numb the tender area as well as reduce swelling and pain. Place a few ice cubes in a plastic bag, and wrap it with a washcloth. Apply this ice pack to each of your breasts for about 10 minutes.” 

4. Wear a bra to sleep, wearing a bra while sleeping helps to minimise movement and protects your tender nipples from rubbing against the bedsheets or your nightclothes. 

5. Use a breast pad. Lining each cup with a breast pad will protect your tender  nipples.

6. If cold therapy isn’t relaxing, take warm showers. The heat can help relax the muscles and ease the tension.

Wear a comfortable bra to support your breasts as they change during pregnancy and lactation / Credit – Canva

Bras to Support Breast Soreness during Pregnancy

Here are some bras that can provide support to your tender breasts. 

Try these comfortable bras to wear during pregnancy-

  • Maternity bras. These bras normally have extra hooks to make room for your expanding rib cage and usually do not have underwire but provide the perfect support and structure.
  • Nursing bras. Switch to nursing bras if you will be breastfeeding. They are as comfortable as maternity bras along with clip-down cups to make feeding more convenient for your baby.
  • Sleep bras. While some women feel better sleeping without a bra some find comfort with some gentle support at night. Sleep bras come with wider straps and have a soft cotton lining to provide comfort.
  • Sports bras. Sports bras for exercise during pregnancy help prevent discomfort and provide support to the larger and heavier breasts. You can also get sports bras which are specifically made for pregnancy or breastfeeding.

The soreness and the pain in the breasts usually get back to normal after you stop breastfeeding. So try these remedies and consult your doctor when in doubt.

Cover image credit – Thomson Medical

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