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Breast Pain During Pregnancy: Why Sore Nipples in Pregnancy? Everything You Need to Know


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Pregnancy is a very subjective experience for every woman. Every woman has different experiences through their pregnancy journey. But, if there’s one thing that’s common and constant in every pregnancy, it is the sudden, sharp, and shooting breast pain and tenderness.

Almost every expecting mother has complained about this symptom at least once throughout their pregnancy. Surprisingly enough, breast pain, sore nipples, and tenderness are some of the early signs of conception.

You have your hormonal imbalance to blame for this but thankfully, these symptoms tend to get better as you progress further into your pregnancy journey. So, chances are that you won’t be complaining much about pain and discomfort in your breasts throughout the pregnancy.


This article will explore everything you need to know about breast pain during pregnancy, its potential causes, and when it turns out to be a matter of concern.

Why Am I experiencing Breast Pain during Pregnancy?

Complaints about sharp, shooting pain in the breast, alongside sore nipples, are common symptoms that many women experience during their menstrual cycle.

But, these similar symptoms are also an early sign of pregnancy, as early as two weeks of conception. The soreness in your breast will prolong until the end of the first trimester due to the unsettling presence of pregnancy hormones in the blood.

As your body goes through each day and week in pregnancy, it prepares itself for the baby, hence preparing the breasts for the breastfeeding that will follow after childbirth.

There is an additional influx of blood into your breasts, making them grow in size. This sudden change in the breast tissue and the surrounding areas is what causes the pain and discomfort that many women often complain about during their pregnancy.

As your breasts go through a growth spurt due to heavy blood circulation, growth of the milk ducts, etc., the changes contribute to the discomfort, soreness, and heavy feeling that you experience.


How is Breast Pain during Pregnancy Different?

Breast and nipple pain during pregnancy is one of the most common consequences of this beautiful experience. Almost every expecting mother experiences it.

But, despite being such a common symptom, many women are still in the dark about the causes. What causes breast pain and discomfort in the first place?

As we discussed earlier, a woman’s body undergoes a lot of hormonal and physical changes during pregnancy. It involves especially two hormones – Estrogen and Progesterone. These hormones directly correlate to the breast pain and the soreness you experience around the nipples.

As your breast is getting ready for breastfeeding, it experiences a lot of fat, tissue, and milk build-up inside, which leads to pain and discomfort as well.

Most women who experience this curtail the experience as unpleasant and a dull ache and soreness around the breast, nipples, and the surrounding areas. Some pregnant women even report feeling heaviness in their breasts due to the expansion of the ducts inside.

What kind of other Breast Changes Happen during Pregnancy?

It is not just the sharp pain and tenderness that are marked symptoms of early pregnancy. In fact, you are bound to experience a lot of physical and physiological changes to the breast tissues and functions as well.

Breast pain in pregnancy is often accompanied by a lot of other changes, including:

  • Besides the soreness and ache in the nipples, some pregnant women also report their nipples protruding outwards and feeling a lot more tender to touch.
  • Most pregnant women notice their areola darkening more than normal. It will also gradually develop oil glands called Montgomery’s tubercles as you progress through your pregnancy.
  • As your breast grows larger in size, it might appear veinier from the outside surface. It is fairly common and nothing you need to be worried about.
  • Experiencing discharge from your nipples as you progress into your pregnancy is quite normal as well. The texture and consistency of the discharge will become thicker as you near your delivery date.

Remember that breast tenderness during pregnancy, alongside these other symptoms are normal and nothing you have to worry about. However, if the pain gets worse progressively instead of getting better, it’s ideal to discuss the potential causes with your OBGYN and get any treatment you need to feel more comfortable throughout your pregnancy.

How to Relieve Breast Pain during Pregnancy?

As you progress through your pregnancy, the complaints surrounding breast pain, tenderness, and soreness in the nipples should gradually get better.

However, in the meantime, you can always look for ways to make the experience a lot more pleasant and comfortable for yourself.

Following are some of the tips you can potentially implement in real-time:

1. Switch up your bra

The kind of bra you are wearing during your pregnancy matters a lot, especially if the pain is becoming worse and more uncomfortable. Since your breasts are likely growing in size, wearing a pre-pregnancy bra might be an ill-fit and dig into your skin or create more friction against the nipples.

What you can do instead is switch to a more comfortable and supportive bra. Focus on stocking up your wardrobe with some full-coverage bra that provides extra support.

If the hooks and enclosures are making you more uncomfortable and digging into your skin, you can always switch to a sports bra or wear a bra that’s one size larger than what you normally wear.

2. Avoid body-hugging clothes

Once you switch up your bra, the next thing in line is the kind of clothes you are wearing. Oddly enough, tight-fitted clothes aren’t here to make you feel comfortable during your pregnancy.

Instead, they might feel constricting and create more friction against the sensitive parts of your body, further increasing the pain and discomfort.

What you can do is opt for flowy and more loose-fitted clothes during your pregnancy. Also, focus on wearing fabrics that are airy and breathable.

3. Try a cold compress

If the pain around the breast and the nipples aren’t getting better, another way to find relief is by applying a cold compress.

The ice or the freezing cold numbs the pain temporarily, bringing you some relief from the day-long discomfort you have been complaining about.

4. Discuss with your OBGYN

Sometimes, sore breast during pregnancy isn’t a temporary occurrence and takes residence for the rest of the term. In such cases, you need to discuss your options with your doctor.

Depending on your symptoms, your doctor might prescribe over-the-counter medications to relieve the soreness, pain, and constant throbbing you are experiencing.


  • At what stage of pregnancy do your nipples start to hurt?

Breast pain is one of the earliest signs of pregnancy, so you might experience it as early as within the first two weeks of your conception. The pain often continues until the end of the first trimester, after which it starts reducing.

  • Will my nipples hurt the entire pregnancy?

The pain and soreness in the nipples might start early on in the pregnancy and can last throughout the gestational period. They vary from one pregnant woman to the other.

  • When do boobs get bigger in pregnancy?

Your breasts often undergo a sudden growth spurt during the second trimester, which is when the pain also starts subsiding in most women.


If you were confused “when breast pain during pregnancy?” we hope this article gives you a comprehensive answer about it. Since it’s a very subjective experience, we can’t classify a specific period until which the pain lasts or exactly when the breast pain and tenderness will start. It’s up to you, and your body’s hormonal balance. However, if the breast pain and soreness start hindering your quality of life, that’s when you need to consult your OBGYN immediately for further guidance.

Srujana Mohanty
She is the Managing Editor of Cogito137, one of India’s leading student-run science communication magazines. She's been working in scientific and medical writing and editing since 2018, also associated with the quality assurance team of scientific journal editing. Majored in Chemistry with a minor in Biology at IISER Kolkata, Srujana loves doodling and watching series.


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