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Breast Symptoms


Breast tenderness is often described as dull, achy, heavy, swollen and may be accompanied by a gradual increase in breast size by up to two cup sizes.  There may also be an increase in areola size and darkening of the areolas.   Breast veins are more prominent and visible.  Highly sensitive nipples.  Burning, tingly or throbbing breast pain.   Itchy breast skin and nipples.  

Throbbing or tingling breasts during sexual activity.  Stretch streaks develop on the breasts.  Benign breast lumps like cysts, galactoceles and fibroadenomas may enlarge in pregnancy.     

Colostrum starts to form after 20 weeks gestation causing nipple discharge later in pregnancy.   First time moms experience more intense breast tenderness than moms that have had previous pregnancies as the breast tissue is expanding in a new way.  

Why it happens: 

Breast tenderness  can be one of the first physical signs alerting the pregnant woman that she is pregnant as estrogen and progesterone increases enable the milk ducts and milk producing cells to form in preparation for breastfeeding.  Additional blood flow circulates in the breast causing swelling and tenderness in the first trimester.   Layers of fat are deposited within the breasts adding to changes in size and discomforts.  


Relief Measures: 

Goal is to improve discomforts and have reassurance that  these are normal changes in pregnancy as the body prepares for lactation.   

  1. Wearing a well-fitting bra with adequate support and no underwire that limits breast movement is key to reducing the discomfort of breast tenderness.   

  2. Choose cotton bras to help dissipate moisture.  

  3. Wear a sports bra that minimizes breast movement when exercising. 

  4. Apply cool cloths to the breasts. 

  5. Avoid breast stimulation during sexual activity. 

  6. Pat breasts dry after bathing, no rubbing or stimulation. 

  7. Sleep in a bra if the breasts are tender at night.   

  8. Wear loose fitting clothing. Tops that are too snug may pinch your breasts and cause more pain. Choose flowing blouses and extra large tees.

  9. Short term use of acetaminophen can be used in all trimesters of pregnancy if the other relief measures aren’t helping. 

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