It is common for women to experience breast tenderness during pregnancy, while breastfeeding, and during menopause. A degree of breast tenderness is also normal during menstrual periods, but usually subsides after the period is over. Breast pain can be defined broadly as any pain, soreness, or discomfort in the breasts. Symptoms of breast pain are often accompanied by swelling.
How Breasts Change during Pregnancy and After Birth
During pregnancy, women's breasts increase in size and fullness. This is a result of changing levels of hormones as her body prepares for the new baby. Breasts undergo many changes during pregnancy, which may include:
- Breasts that feel full, heavy, or tender
- Tingling and soreness in breasts and nipples
- More noticeable veins in the breast
- Darkening of the nipple and areola
Handling Breast Changes during Pregnancy and After Birth
Hormonal imbalance can cause breast tenderness, and if you are pregnant or recently gave birth, this is a normal part of this phase of life.
Tips for dealing with breast tenderness while pregnant:
- Wear a maternity bra with good support
- Drink 8 - 10 glasses of water a day
- Get plenty of rest
- Avoid caffeine
- Try mild physical activity
It is normal for women to leak colostrum from their breasts while pregnant. Colostrum is the first milk that a newborn baby typically drinks. It is thick, yellow in color, and contains antibodies that the protect newborn from infection.
On the other hand, the following signs are not completely normal and may warrant a doctor's attention:
- Nipple discharge that is not colostrum
- Changes to nipple texture
- Being able to feel a lump in the breast tissue
- Changes in skin, rash, or other breast irritation
You should consult your doctor if you are experiencing any of these breast-related symptoms during your pregnancy.
Making the decision whether or not to breastfeed is entirely up to the mother. There is no right or wrong decision, only what a mother feels is best for herself and her family. Not all women are able to breastfeed, and this is also perfectly normal.pain breast tenderness.
There are different issues that can arise after pregnancy and during breastfeeding. These include breast engorgement, sore or chapped nipples, and blocked milk ducts. It is important to have a conversation with your doctor about proper breastfeeding techniques; he or she can help you through any of these issues. There are also breastfeeding hotlines that nursing women can call and support groups for nursing women.
Click on treatments for breast tenderness to learn about breast tenderness and treating this symptom outside of pregnancy.
- National Health Service UK. (n.d.). Breast changes during and after pregnancy. Retrieved from http://www.nhs.uk/ipgmedia/National/Breast%20Cancer%20Care/assets/BreastchangesduringandafterpregnancyBCC22pages.pdf
- Office on Women's Health. (2010). Pregnancy. Retrieved from http://womenshealth.gov/pregnancy/you-are-pregnant/body-changes-discomforts.html
- Smith, M.N. (2012). Breast Pain. Retrieved from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003152.htm