Tender and sore breasts are a common occurrence during pregnancy. During pregnancy, hormones like oestrogen and progesterone cause changes in the breast tissue and increase in blood flow. The layer of fat in breasts thickens and milk glands multiply as pregnancy progresses. Due to this, breasts feel sore, tingly, swollen and are extra sensitive to touch. This might go to such extremes that even clothes brushing against the breasts seem unbearable at times. Breast tenderness usually starts at four to six weeks of pregnancy.

The change in your breast size will vary from woman to woman. For some, breasts might grow gradually through the pregnancy, and for others, breasts might grow rapidly in the first trimester or they will grow suddenly in the last trimester. If this is the mother’s first pregnancy, it is not unusual for the breasts to grow by a couple of cup sizes and for some, the breasts might grow even after delivering the baby. Some women also feel a tingling or throbbing sensation in their breasts during sex due to the increased blood flow to the breasts causing sore breasts. In addition to this, these are some changes which might occur

1. Breast growth:

When the pregnancy is at the six to eight weeks, breasts grow bigger and may feel itchy due to the stretching of the skin and you may also develop stretch marks.

2. Pigment changes and veins:

Nipples get bigger and darker while one may see the veins under the skin of the breasts. These veins carry nutrients to and from the baby. The pigmented circles around the nipples are called areolas. These areolas will increase in size and also become darker.

3. Bumps on the areola:

There are small bumps on the areoles which are oil producing glands called Montgomery’s Tubercles. These Montgomery Tubercles become more pronounced in preparation for nursing the baby. They are actually glands which lubricate the area.

4. Leaky Breasts:

Breasts start producing the special milk the baby will need when it first starts nursing called colostrum in the third month of pregnancy. This Colostrum is a thick yellow substance which leaks in small amounts in the last few months of pregnancy. Some women might not leak at all while some leak colostrum later than the others.

To ease the pain due to sore breasts or tender breasts,  

1. Pain due to sore breasts or tender breasts can be managed by buying good, supportive bras. Don’t wear bras with underwires as they may be uncomfortable and increase the pain from a sore breast. Look at materials with no seams near the nipples to prevent chafing. Cotton bras are more breathable and comfortable than synthetic, which makes them the ideal choice to reduce the pain from tender breasts. Try a maternity bra for more support during the day and one can also invest in a nursing bra. Buy a nighttime bra as it will be very comfortable while sleeping. Cotton sports bars are also a must during exercise during breast pain. Buy bras which allow room for breast growth. To find the correct bra size, one has to first measure around the chest, under the breasts, where the bra’s lowest part sits. Then one has to measure around the fullest part of your bust, typically in the middle. To find the correct cup size, subtract the first measurement (measurement under the breasts) from the second measurement (measurement of the fullest part of the bust). One must always keep in mind that sizes vary according to the brand and style of the bra. Not wearing a bra will worsen matters for some women as it causes severe pain in the breasts and results in the change in the shape of the breasts.

2. Another way to combat sore breasts or tender breasts is to drink plenty of water. Sore breasts or tender breasts can be aggravated by water retention. Drinking enough water will ensure that the body flushes out the extra hormones and fluids. In addition to water, if one mixes ginger, fennel, lemon or bentonite clay with water it can help with soreness of breasts or pain of breasts.

3. A way to reduce sore breasts or tender breasts or breast pain is to temporarily reduce the intake of salt as greater salt content causes greater salt retention which results in severe breast pain as they grow heavier.

4. Flaxseed is a good source of fibre. One can reduce sore breasts or tender breasts or breast pain by taking 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed mixed with a glass of water, yoghurt or fruit juice.

5. Diets rich in minerals and vitamins create a healthy foundation for the body, To alleviate breast pain or tender breasts, one can add whole grains, seeds, beans, leafy greens, and nuts to reduce tenderness and soothe the pain from sore breasts.

6. Covering breasts with a warm, wet towel for ten to fifteen minutes can go a long way in reducing sore breasts, tender breasts or breast pain. The warm compress reduces swelling and tenderness while increasing blood flow to the breasts. Soaking in a warm bath can also help the breast pain. Some women also use ice pads to reduce sore breasts or tender breasts or breast pain. One can try out both to see which method works better for their bodies as each body is different and deals with sore breasts and tender breasts differently. What works for one person might not work for the other.

7. Try avoiding unnecessary contact with the breasts to reduce sore breasts or tender breasts or breast pain. Unless if it’s for bathing or moisturising, avoid touching the breasts. Contact during sex is also optional and completely under your control.

8. Applying creams and lotions regularly to soothe sore breasts or tender breasts or breast pain can help matters. Creams and lotions that contain lanolin as an active ingredient are most effective in reducing sore breasts or tender breasts or breast pain. This lanolin prevents irritation, dryness and infection in sore breasts. In the absence of creams and lotions containing lanolin, calendula and chamomile can be used to reduce sore breasts or tender breasts or breast pain.

9. When chamomile tea bags are kept on tender breasts or sore breasts, they reduce the swelling and pain in the breasts to a great extent. Mango butter, cocoa butter, and Shea butter also help reduce sore breasts or tender breasts or breast pain.

10. Investing in breast pads can help the shield the nipples from brushing against the lining of the bra and hence decrease the breast pain.

11. Avoid using soaps as they can dry the skin around the nipples and breasts which makes them more prone to irritation and sore breasts.

Breast pain may be embarrassing, painful, and uncomfortable, it is absolutely normal and if the pain becomes unbearable, one must contact the doctor right away. One must avoid self-medication and over-the-counter drugs at all costs as their consumption may lead to further complications in pregnancy.

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