Sore breasts are a common complaint during pregnancy. The soreness is due to hormonal changes your body is going through in preparation for the birth. The amount of breast sensitivity varies from woman to woman, and will also fluctuate depending on the trimester. Unfortunately, there is no cure for breast soreness–just ways to ease the pain.
Tender and sore breasts are one of the byproducts due to the number of changes your body is going through. In the weeks after inception, your breasts begin to grow and develop in preparation to feed your baby. Estrogen and progesterone, two hormones that a pregnant woman produces at up to eight times the normal level, play a major role in these changes. By the second trimester, your hormone levels will start evening out and the soreness will being to disappear.
Breast soreness usually starts between the fourth and sixth week of pregnancy. Most women find that their breasts are at their most sensitive during the first trimester, and that the level of sensitivity decreases during the second and third trimester. The level of sensitivity can also vary with your age and the number of children you have. First-time and younger mothers typically have more severe soreness than experienced and older mothers.
During pregnancy, estrogen hormones help to develop and grow the milk glands and ducts in your breasts to prepare them for breast feeding. This can cause discomfort because it increases the shape and size of your breasts as well as enlarges your nipples and areolae. The higher estrogen levels also increase the blood flow throughout your body, causing blood to rush to your breasts and making making them much more sensitive to pressure.
Progesterone levels also increase during pregnancy. One function of progesterone is to convince your body to store more water so as to make the uterus rich in nutrients in anticipation of the baby. In your breasts, this extra water causes them to stretch and become sore. Progesterone also stimulates the growth of the milk glands and breast tissue, which also leads to soreness.
While there is no way to cure breast soreness during pregnancy, there are ways to ease the discomfort. Avoid any pressure or friction that causes pain, such as from the rough fabrics of certain clothes. Soft cotton bras without underwires can help prevent chafing, as do maternity bras, which are typically adjustable and have wider straps for better comfort and support. A warm bath can help relieve the swelling, and a cold washcloth can help cool down hot or throbbing breasts.