During pregnancy the body of a woman goes through inevitable changes. They affect the hormonal background and are reflected in all organs and systems. But mammary glands are especially sensitive to these changes. Breast pain refers to the signs of successful conception and development of pregnancy. It can appear a few days after fertilization and remind you of itself throughout the entire pregnancy. So, is breast pain during pregnancy a normal thing or a sign of pathology? Are there any ways to relieve the pain? Let’s find out.
When Does the Breast Start Hurting?
It is quite difficult to understand that you are pregnant before the delay of the period. The test may show the wrong result, the stomach does not grow yet. So, the only sign of possible conception is the pain and tension of the mammary glands. Not all women take this symptom seriously, as many of them feel breast discomfort shortly before menstruation, and only if the period does not arrive on time, it becomes obvious that it can be pregnancy.
So, what week or month does the breast pain during pregnancy begin? When does it happen? The increase in the sensitivity of the mammary glands usually begins to manifest itself a few days after conception. Since everything is individual, the sensations and timing can vary. Pain most often appears at the beginning of pregnancy and passes by the end of the first trimester to return and remind of itself shortly before the birth of the baby.
Sometimes women complain that breast pain during pregnancy stays throughout the whole term. At the same time, the sensations will still be less obvious than they were before 12 weeks. The severity of breast pain during pregnancy and the period when the breast starts hurting depend on the individual characteristics of the female body.
Does the Breast Always Hurt during Pregnancy?
The course of pregnancy cannot be the same even among close relatives. Some future mothers complain of increased breast sensitivity, others note increased pigmentation and an increase in areoles. Some women notice a slight soreness. But sometimes the mammary glands do not give unpleasant sensations to a woman at all, but they still increase and become thicker, as it should be during the gestation of the baby.
As a rule, breast pain during pregnancy resembles the same sensations of tension and discomfort that women feel before menstruation. But if there is no pain, this should in no case cause panic, since it is also normal.
Why Does the Breast Hurt at the Beginning of Pregnancy?
In many cases, from the first days of pregnancy, the breast of a woman undergoes significant changes. They are considered one of the most reliable and early symptoms of pregnancy. And it happens because the level of sex hormones in the blood increases very much. Under the influence of the hormone of pregnancy, which is called human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), the breast quite significantly increases in size (both mammary glands and fatty tissues). HCG makes the chest heavy. And it even begins to swell.
Sometimes this is accompanied by the appearance of a vein net, since the blood supply to the breast increases.
For some women at the beginning of pregnancy swelling or darkening of the nipples is characteristic. Colostrum can appear as well. In addition, the breasts and nipples become very sensitive and painful. Often even simple touching causes pain and discomfort.
But there is no need to worry about this, since it is quite a normal phenomenon accompanying pregnancy. Be patient, because in this way the breast is preparing for the baby’s future feeding. All of the above symptoms are a kind of improvement of the mammary glands during the period of gestation of the baby. By the way, all women who experienced these symptoms become less susceptible to oncological diseases in the future.
Changes in the Mammary Glands during Pregnancy
The main changes in the mammary glands in pregnant women are the following:
- Increase of the mammary glands. Breasts during pregnancy can become several sizes bigger. Most often this occurs already during the first weeks of pregnancy. Swelling of the mammary glands is associated with the proliferation of connective tissue and cells responsible for milk production;
- Tenderness and tension of mammary glands. It happens due to the fact that breasts become bigger and change their structure;
- Appearance of colostrum. Colostrum differs from milk. It has a higher content of protein and vitamins. It is a whitish-yellow sticky liquid flowing out by small drops from the nipples. The development of colostrum can begin at any time, but more often it takes place from 18th-20th week of pregnancy;
- Appearance of a vascular net on the skin of the breast. It happens due to increased blood flow and the expansion of blood vessels;
- The appearance of Montgomery glands (rudimentary mammary glands). Small papillae appear near the nipple (up to several millimeters in diameter). Their number can vary from one to several dozens on each breast;
- Swelling and sensitization of the nipples. Nipples increase, become more prominent and elongated;
- Darkening of nipples and areola;
- The appearance of stretch marks on the skin is also possible. It happens primarily due to a significant change in breast size.
How Long Does the Breast Pain during Pregnancy Last?
We have already mentioned about the time when breast pain during pregnancy begin. But how long does it last? Most often, discomfort in the mammary gland disappears by the end of the first trimester or closer to 12 weeks. At the same time the symptoms of early toxicosis become milder. Thus, the body tells the future mother that adaptation to hormonal changes has come to the end.
It can be noted that the peak of sensitivity of the mammary glands occurs in the morning. Towards the evening the discomfort usually softens. Due to increased blood supply, the tissues of the mammary glands begin to increase in size. If a woman observes the daily routine and leads an active lifestyle during the day, then closer to the evening her breasts will be less sensitive.
Recommendations for Breast Care during Pregnancy:
Choose the right underwear. The bra should be comfortable. It shouldn’t squeeze or rub the breasts and nipples. It is necessary to wear natural fabrics underwear, without unnecessary seams and decorative elements. If the nipples are sensitive, don’t take the bra off at night. It is best to use a special bra for pregnant and lactating women;
Observe the hygiene rules. Wash your breasts at least twice a day with warm water (or wipe with a damp towel). Do not use soap or other products. They can make the skin dry;
Use moisturizing creams after taking a shower or bath. You can use special cream to prevent stretch marks;
Use special inserts for a bra if colostrum appears. Do not use rough fabrics pads for this purpose. This leads to irritation and stimulation of the nipple, which causes an increased tone of the uterus, and, accordingly, the threat of termination of pregnancy;
Take a contrast shower to prevent the appearance of stretch marks. It is necessary to alternately direct a stream of cool and warm water to the breast. Do not direct a strong water jet o the nipples in order to avoid unnecessary stimulation. The procedure should be performed 1-2 times a day for 7-10 minutes.
After the appearance of colostrum, use hygienic sterile pads. You can buy them at pharmacies.
Do not use shower gels and ordinary soap to wash your breasts. Buy baby soap or shampoo, which have a mark “hypoallergenic” for these purposes.
Daily perform a set of exercises for the breast. This will allow you not only to avoid pain in the mammary glands, but also keep the breast in shape.
Symptoms of Breast Pain during Pregnancy that Require a Visit to a Doctor
Be sure to contact a breast physician if the following symptoms appear:
- The appearance of constant aching pain in the breast;
- Uneven breast enlargement (there are hollows or mounds on it);
- Bloody discharge from the nipple or an admixture of blood in the colostrum;
- Appearance of puffiness, soreness, redness of the skin of a mammary gland;
- The appearance of painful seals.