After conception, you can feel the tiny human growing inside your tummy. It’s exciting, awesome and a whole lot of emotions I won’t get into here. Then your breasts start to enlarge and become very sensitive, heavy, tingly, sore and tender. In fact, sore and swollen breast is one of the symptoms of pregnancy. This experience happens in the first trimester from around the 4th to the 7th week. This can then continue all the way through the second and third trimester.
In some women, the breasts become so sensitive that they want nothing to touch them, including fabric. The breasts will get heavier and sometimes uncomfortable when you run. Other changes that will happen to the breast include: the areolas and nipples darkening, the nipples becoming more prominent and bluish veins appearing under the skin indicating increased blood flow. These changes are an indication that your breasts are getting ready for milk production to nurse your baby.
The reason I found sore boobs frustrating during my pregnancy, was that I could not sleep on my tummy. I mean, it’s the most comfortable sleeping position. The swollen boobs however made it impossible due to the aches and pain. The breast tenderness then started to go away around the end of the fourth month. However, this did not help the situation since the bump was now too big to sleep on! How infuriating! But it’s alright since by then I was amazed by the size of my boobs. They’d turned from tiny, to large and firm which was awesome!
Before we can get into how to deal with sore breast during pregnancy, let understand what causes the soreness or tenderness.
Soreness is caused by hormonal changes that your body undergoes after conception in preparation for birth. Breast tenderness will vary from one woman to another and will fluctuate depending on what trimester you are in. There is, unfortunately, no way to cure the soreness, but one can ease the pain.
Progesterone and estrogen play a huge role in these changes and are produced in high amounts during pregnancy. By trimester two, the hormones will start to even out and the soreness will disappear. Some women, however, experience the soreness even during the third trimester. The level of sensitivity also increases but varies depending on the number of children you’ve had previously and your age. For first time mothers, the soreness is more severe.
The estrogen hormone helps the breast develop. It also helps the milk ducts and glands to grow in preparation for breastfeeding. Due to this, your breast will increase in size and shape and your nipples and areolae will also enlarge. The high levels of estrogen lead to an increase in blood flow causing blood to rush to the breast which makes them more sensitive.
Progesterone hormone increases too during pregnancy. One of the functions of progesterone is to help the body store enough water. This helps the uterus get rich in nutrients in anticipation of the bundle of joy. The extra water in the breast will make them stretch and become sore. This hormone will also stimulate breast tissue and milk glands growth leading to soreness.
Remedies for sore breasts during pregnancy
Like I said, there is no treatment for sore breast, but one can ease the pain.
- Wear a supportive bra that’s comfortable. It should also have shoulder straps.
- Not wearing a bra will make your boobs not only sag but also hurt like hell.
- Get measured for one that fits. This should be done more than once since your boobs are growing and their cup sizes will keep changing.
- When sleeping, wear a maternity cotton sleep bra to reduce soreness and for that well deserved peaceful sleep.
- Avoid wearing bra’s with underwires. If that’s the only brand you dig, buy one size larger than your boobs. This will give your boobs plenty of space to roam and the wire won’t press or contort the boobs.
- During exercise, make sure your bra is supportive and well fitted. This will make sure your breasts get no extra pressure.
- Avoid too much contact with your breast. Inform your partner of the situation so that they can be careful during hugging and lovemaking. Find a wise way to inform friends and relatives when they hug you without hurting their feelings.
- Breasts pads will be a great option since they prevent your nipples from touching the bra lining. Seamless bras can also be a good option for comfort.
- Women with heavy breast can wear padded bras or sports bras.
- Soothe the boobs using warm (not hot) compresses or showers. Wet a towel with warm water and cover your breasts with it for 10 to 15 minutes. This warmth will increase the blood circulation in your boobs while reducing tenderness and swelling.
- Do not take in too much salt in your foods since salt retains water. This will make your boobs heavier resulting in more pain.
- Drink lots of water to help flush out excess waste. It will also make you feel fresh.
- Do not laze around during pregnancy. Get active! Being physically active no matter how small the activity is, ensures good blood circulation.
Note, the soreness can either decrease or increase during the first months and during the second and third trimester. This should not be a cause for worry since the pain fluctuates depending on the rise of hormones. If you get concerned, however, inform your doctor each time you go for a checkup.
- What to Expect When You’re Expecting by Heidi Murkoff