If you can remember when your period is near how tender your breasts could get, then you’re close to understanding what it is like to have tender breasts during pregnancy. Breast tenderness is one of the telltale signs that you are pregnant and quite different from that of the period. It is a time when you will pay more attention to them. It is one of the several changes to the breast that you will experience during pregnancy.

What Breast Tenderness Really Feels Like

As soon as you become pregnant, your breasts like other parts of your body begin to go through some changes. Your breasts will feel fuller, and you will notice that your nipples are firmer and protruding forward. But as your breasts become firmer, they have a tingly, sore and rather tender feel, making it extremely uncomfortable for some pregnant women if anything should brush against them. You could notice this tenderness from as early as three or four weeks, even before you do a pregnancy test, making it one of the first signs of pregnancy. This condition will go on to the end of the first trimester when it will subside and become less of a discomfort for you. Breast tenderness will be more distressing for first time mothers whose milk ducts have been lying dormant. They had not gotten used to the stretching and swollenness from a previous pregnancy and therefore you will feel exceptionally sore.

Causes of Tender Breasts

There are several actions that are at play here to cause your breasts to feel this way.

Actions of Hormones – The actions of the pregnancy hormones progesterone and estrogen are to be blamed for your sore breasts. The hormones are produced in the ovaries to support the reproductive system and the womb during pregnancy. As soon as pregnancy takes place, your breasts are getting ready for milk production and the milk ducts are becoming enlarged. The action of estrogen in particular causes a response from the mammary tissues causing the feeling of fullness in the breasts.

Production of More Blood – The hormones also cause more blood to be produced in the body. When this happens, your breasts will feel engorged and swollen. Greater volumes of blood in the body will mean more fluid getting to the breasts making them feel enlarged.

Stretching of the Ligaments – As the progesterone hormone acts on the breasts it causes the supporting ligaments to stretch, making way for more blood to fill the spaces. But you will experience pain in the meanwhile from all that stretching and relaxing that is taking place.  Consider also that breasts tissues are originally quite sensitive areas.

Other Changes to Tender Breasts

Several other changes will occur that have some relation to your swollen and tender breasts.

Growth and Enlargement – With more blood flowing through the veins of your breasts, and the milk ducts getting larger and getting ready with milk for your baby, your breasts will become larger. At this time also fat is building in the breasts therefore increasing their size. As your breasts get larger, the more tender they may feel and the greater the discomfort.

Changes in the Nipples – Your nipples will undergo some changes at the beginning of your pregnancy.  The area around the nipples, the areolas will become darker and wider. At the same time small bumps known as Montgomery’s Tubercles appear on the areolas. These are nothing to worry about, however. Instead they provide the nipple areas with oils from their sebaceous glands to lubricate them.

Veins are more Prominent – Dark blue veins lying beneath the skin and running in map-like crossings will appear on your breasts. Apart from carrying a vital flow of blood, they also transport important nutrients between the mother and baby.

Itchy, Dry Skin – As your breasts stretch under the pressure of hormones and increased blood flow, you will also experience itching from the dryness of the skin.  This will leave your breasts with dark marks on them popularly known as stretch marks. These may or may not go away after birth but you can use a moisturizing cream or lotion to help improve their look.

How to Relieve Breast Tenderness

Wear comfortable bras – One of the best ways that you can reduce breast tenderness is to wear comfortable fitting bras. Try to avoid underwire bras for the sake of preventing any object from sticking into your flesh especially when your breasts are so sore. Instead, wear bras that have banded cups that are well-fitted and supportive and that will not place any pressure on your breasts. Furthermore, this can relieve stretching and sagging of your breasts.

Avoid contact – Wear loose fitting clothes that allow your breasts to breathe. Rather than tucking your shirt in, leave it hanging. It is best to stick to cooler fabrics like cotton. Try to prevent contact with any object that could bring pain when your breasts are touched. You should perhaps let your partner know how you are feeling and how he can help by being gentle with you.

Use the shower spray – See which one is more soothing or brings greater relief, a warm shower spray bath or perhaps filling the bath with warm water and sitting in it.  When using the shower do not turn the water on too hard, however. This can spoil the fun and increase the discomfort.

Breast pads could help – You could use breast pads to prevent your nipples from touching against the lining of the bra. You will benefit especially if your bra is one of those without seams. Seamless bras will prevent any discomfort for your tender breasts.

Do warm compresses – When your breasts are feeling extremely sore, fill a basin with warm water and heat a towel with it. Apply the warm towel as a compress to your beasts.

Talk to your doctor – Most of the times your doctor knows best. Therefore ensure that you talk to him about that troublesome tender breast situation.

Every expectant mother should expect to feel some tenderness in their breasts when they become pregnant. It is only part of the signs that they are getting ready to feed your baby that is developing in you.