When a woman becomes pregnant many changes occur in her body in preparation for nourishing the growing fetus. Even before the woman has had a positive pregnancy test, some symptoms begin to manifest themselves. In fact, some occur even before she misses her first period.
Breast tenderness is one of the most common signs of pregnancy for many women. The term is used to describe the soreness and overall discomfort that pregnant women experience. For many mothers to be, this is one of the earliest signs that they are pregnant.
The time when breast tenderness starts varies from woman to woman. Many women report feeling tenderness in their breasts as early as one week after ovulation. In fact, this early symptom tends to occur most often anywhere between week four to six of a pregnancy. What is certain is that breast tenderness resulting from pregnancy tends to appear long before the woman misses a period. In some cases, this feeling of tenderness comes and goes. This can cause some women to panic as they see it as an indication that something is wrong. While disappearing symptoms can sometimes indicate that there is a problem with the pregnancy, in most cases it results from fluctuating hormones.
Causes of Breast Tenderness during Pregnancy
This breast tenderness is caused by the changing hormones in the body resulting from pregnancy. These changes result in increased blood flow to the breasts and nipples, which increases sensitivity. The increase in the hormones, progesterone and estrogen also cause changes in breast tissues as milk ducts develop in preparation for breastfeeding.
The severity of breast tenderness in pregnancy varies for many reasons. For first time mothers and some younger women it may be worse. Some other common breast changes during pregnancy include:
- Increasing size, in some cases up to two bra sizes in difference
- Heaviness in the breasts
- Depending on skin color, veins will become more prominent
- More sensitive nipples
- Development of stretch marks
Dealing with the Soreness
The best and most effective way to deal with breast tenderness resulting from pregnancy is to wear well-fitting and supportive bras. This is especially important if you exercise as your larger breasts will move more and as such exaggerate the discomfort. Some other tips for reducing tenderness include:
- Not wearing bras with seams at the nipples
- Not wearing bras with underwire
- Trying to wear cotton bras
- Applying a cool rag to breasts to ease pain
- Sleeping in a bra
- Soaking in a bath of warm water also offers some relief
Thankfully, for most women, breast tenderness resulting from pregnancy tends to subside or disappear after the first trimester. This doesn’t mean that there may not be some level of discomfort due to increased breast size. It will be nothing like those first couple weeks of pregnancy.
January 18th, 2010
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