Breast Tenderness and Changes During Pregnancy

pregnant woman with sore breasts

If your breasts are growing (by the second!) during your pregnancy, they’re also likely ultrasensitive and tender. (Look but don’t touch, darling.) Breast tenderness is one of the most common symptoms of pregnancy, usually starting around week 4 to week 7 and lasting through the first trimester, though your breasts will continue to change throughout your pregnancy, culminating with the production of colostrum – the precursor to breast milk and your baby’s first food after delivery – that will begin to leak around week 38.

WHAT CAUSES BREAST CHANGES AND TENDERNESS DURING PREGNANCY?

That dazzling hormonal duo — estrogen and progesterone — deserves most of the blame for changes and tenderness. Other factors include the (good and necessary) fat that’s building up in your breasts and increased blood flow to the area. Why all the fuss? Your breasts are getting ready to become milking machines in just a few short months.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

In addition to that tender feeling, you’ll likely notice a few changes in your breasts during pregnancy:

  • Your nipples. In addition to achiness and tingling, your nipples may be protruding more than usual (your high-beams are on). And, although they might look luscious, they probably don’t feel that way. In fact, they may be incredible – perhaps agonizingly – tender.
  • Your areolas. If you’re like most women, your areola (the dark area around the nipple) has become darker, possibly spotted, and just plain bigger – a phenomenon that will continue as the month’s pass. Your areola will also be sporting Montgomery tubercles, little goosebumps (actually sweat glands) that supply lubrication to the area.
  • Your veins. You’ll also notice a complex highway of blue veins just below the skin’s surface, which carry nutrients and fluids from mother to baby.

The good news: Your breasts may continue to grow, but they’ll probably stop hurting after the first trimester. Even better news: Your breasts will (almost) return to their former glory (or petite beauty) in the months after birth.

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO EASE SORE BREASTS?

  • Make sure your partner is aware of the situation and proceeds with caution during lovemaking — and even hugging (let him know what’s okay to touch, and how)
  • Invest in a good bra now to prevent stretching and sagging later on (definitely a maternity must-have); avoid underwire if possible
  • Wear a cotton sports bra to bed if your breasts are uncomfortable while sleeping

CONSIDER THIS: A COTTON SLEEP BRA

Sometimes, movement and position changes during sleep can irritate sore nipples or make tender breasts even sorer. A supportive (but lightweight and comfortable) bra can help give your breasts the support they need overnight. Look for wire-free, unpadded options that don’t have hooks or snaps.

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