Sore Breasts During Pregnancy- Causes and Tips to Relieve Breast Pain

5 min read

Written by Editorial Team

Editorial Team

sore breasts during pregnancy

Sore breasts are one of the most common symptoms during the early stages of pregnancy. It may be the first symptom that a pregnant woman experiences even before she does a pregnancy test. This tenderness or soreness is a result of hormonal fluctuations in the body during pregnancy.

For most women, sore breasts during pregnancy may be really discomforting, while for some women with higher pain tolerance levels, it may not be a concern at all. So, find out how to deal with those sore breasts during pregnancy by following this guide.

In This Article 

What Causes Sore Breasts During Pregnancy?

It is a normal symptom experienced by most pregnant women. This starts as soon as the embryo is formed, allowing the pregnant woman’s body to release high levels of progesterone and estrogen, which helps the embryo to attach to the surface of the uterus. This quick rise in progesterone and estrogen hormones is one of the key reasons for sore breasts during pregnancy. These hormones rapidly prepare female breasts for breastfeeding.

Due to the increase in hormone levels, the fat layer thickens, blood flow intensifies, and the milk gland ducts in the breasts are stretched, causing itchiness. The increased blood flow caused by higher estrogen levels also stimulates the expansion of breast tissue, which enables the breasts to enlarge in size, triggering soreness. It also encourages the growth of milk ducts and glands in preparation for breastfeeding. During pregnancy, the nipples and the areolas also increase in size leading to breast soreness. 

At What Stage of Pregnancy Do Breasts Get Sore?

at what stage of pregnancy do breasts get sore?

Every woman is unique, and every pregnancy is also different. Some can experience signs of pregnancy differently than other women. For a few women, one of the first indications of pregnancy may be sore breasts. It may often begin at about the 3rd or 4th week (1 – 2 weeks after conception). Depending upon the trimester and thickness of the fat layer in breast tissue, the discomfort varies from one woman to another.

Though breast soreness and discomfort are common in the first trimester, it often reduces in the second and third trimesters as progesterone levels begin to decrease at this stage. In the third trimester, the milk ducts may grow and become larger because of the increased blood flow, which might lead to breast soreness yet again. During this phase, the breasts might begin to leak colostrum, a watery, yellowish “foremilk” (some women may not experience leaking of breasts, but that is normal and has nothing to do with your ability to lactate).

[Read : Progesterone During Pregnancy]

How Long Will Breasts be Sore During Pregnancy?

A pregnant woman’s body is flooded with hormones in the first trimester, which may lead to moderate to severe sore breast sensations. The soreness of the breast can be felt by a pregnant woman right from the 3rd or 4th week of the pregnancy. The soreness might go down by the second trimester as the pregnancy hormones begin to balance out. Some pregnant women, however, claim to feel sore nipples, with sensitive breasts even in the third trimester.

For first-time mothers in particular, the tenderness is really intense. Consequently, the breasts change in shape and size as they become heavier and bigger as the pregnancy progresses, which makes them more uncomfortable and painful.

[Read : Breast Changes During Pregnancy]

Top Tips to Relieve Breast Pain and Tenderness

tips for breast pain and tenderness

There are multiple ways to tackle and relieve soreness and pain in the breasts during pregnancy. And, though consulting a doctor is advisable if the pain is unbearable or accompanied by any other symptoms.

Here are a few tips and remedies that one can try out for relief from sore breasts.

  • A cotton sleep bra made specifically for pregnant women will make you feel less sore, and help to get better sleep.
  • Wear a good quality, well-fitted, and supportive sports bra while exercising.
  • Avoid underwired bras as they may cause discomfort when the wires press against the breasts.
  • Use a good quality maternity bra with supportive shoulder straps. Look for materials like cotton and hosiery which allow your skin to breathe and absorb sweat.
  • Avoid touching the breasts excessively as this may cause further discomfort.
  • Take care while hugging or cuddling, or getting intimate with your partner.
  • Use breast pads. They will act as a barrier and prevent the nipples from touching the bra fabric, hence reducing friction and pain.
  • Since the breast size keeps on varying constantly during pregnancy, it is advisable to get fitted frequently for bra size and update the wardrobe accordingly.
  • Use a warm (not hot) compress or showers for 10 to 15 minutes to relieve breast discomfort. This improves blood circulation which will lessen the soreness.
  • One can also try applying a cold compress to relieve breast pain and soreness.

[Read : Best Bra During Pregnancy]

When Should You Consider Seeing a Doctor?

woman having extreme breast pain

Sore breasts do not really need any medical treatment. As it is typical to experience some breast and nipple discomfort throughout the pregnancy. But it is advisable to consult a medical professional if you notice any of the following symptoms

  • Breast pain that is unbearable
  • Bloody or clear discharge from your nipple
  • There is a breast lump
  • Infection indicators include redness, pus, or a fever

Sore breasts are quite normal during pregnancy. Most women experience a dull ache, soreness, fullness, heaviness, or tenderness. But some women also report sharp, shooting pain. Sometimes, the pain or soreness may also radiate into the armpits. Since the soreness occurs due to hormonal surge in the body, it is usually not a cause for concern. And, in fact, this pain and discomfort normally fade as the pregnancy progresses. But in a rare scenario where the pain worsens, it’s always better to consult your doctor.


1. Does Everyone Get Sore Breasts in Early Pregnancy?

Although early pregnancy sore breasts are a common symptom, not all pregnant women will experience sore breasts in early pregnancy. As the pregnancy progresses, hormonal fluctuations can lead to heaviness and pain in the breasts. 

2. Do Sore Breasts Indicate Anything Serious?

Hormonal fluctuations can cause sore breasts. Sore breasts are a common premenstrual symptom for some women. Also, it is common to experience sore breasts during pregnancy, and there’s usually nothing to worry about. However, consult with a doctor if you experience unbearable pain or breast soreness or notice a growing lump on your breasts while pregnant.

Editorial Team,

With a rich experience in pregnancy and parenting, our team of experts create insightful, well-curated, and easy-to-read content for our to-be-parents and parents at all stages of parenting.Read more.

Responses (0)

Please check a captcha

Want curated content sharply tailored for your exact stage of parenting?

Discover great local businesses around you for your kids.

Get regular updates, great recommendations and other right stuff at the right time.


Our site uses cookies to make your experience on this site even better. We hope you think that is sweet.