female having breast pain in pregnancy

Breast pain is often the first sign of pregnancy, occurring as early as 1 to 2 weeks after conception, which is week 3 or 4 of pregnancy (as pregnancy weeks are calculated starting from the female’s last period). Breast tenderness or pain in the first trimester mainly happens because the pregnant female’s body has many new pregnancy hormones. The pregnancy hormones work by preparing the female’s body to support pregnancy.

Pregnancy hormones work quickly to prepare the breasts for breastfeeding. Blood flow to the breast area increases and the breasts grow larger, which can be painful and also cause skin irritation and itching.

The milk ducts in the breasts also grow to prepare for breastfeeding. The pregnancy hormones stimulate the growth of the milk-producing glands. Basically, the breasts go through a massive growth spurt.

How does breast pain in pregnancy feel?

Female having breast pain in pregnancy

Breast pain can be of many types. A female may feel breast pain can happen in one or both breasts. The female may feel pain all over the breasts, in a specific part or spot, or radiating pain that moves outward into the armpits. The soreness can be constant or can come and go.

During the initial weeks of pregnancy, breast pain can be dull and achy. The breasts may feel heavy, tender and swollen and super sensitive to the touch. This can make daily activities, exercise and sex very uncomfortable. Extreme nipple tenderness, pain, and sensitivity typically resolve on its own within a few weeks.

As the first trimester progresses, the female may notice fullness and heaviness rather than pain or tenderness. Some females may also experience a tingling sensation in their nipples and areolas in the first trimester.

Some females may experience sharp breast pain which feels like a knife being stabbed to a specific area of a breast is not common during pregnancy. And in such cases, she should consult her doctor. 

Can breast pain be an early sign of pregnancy? 

pregnant female vomiting in the washroom

The most common sign of pregnancy is a missed period. But the female may notice some signs of pregnancy even sooner. For some females, breast pain is the first noticeable sign of pregnancy, which can show up in 2 weeks of conception. 

Other early signs of pregnancy include:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Frequent urination
  • Food craving or aggregations

Females who experience such signs or breast pain should after having unprotected sex should consider taking a pregnancy test.


Also Read: Foods that can harm a female’s pregnancy


Breast changes – trimester wise

sore breasts in pregnancy

The first trimester- In the first trimester (week 0 to week 12 of pregnancy), the hormones fluctuate, which changes the body in many ways. 

Shifts in hormonal levels (of progesterone and estrogen) prepare the female’s body for breastfeeding, bringing noticeable changes in the breasts. Such changes may include tenderness, swelling and soreness, with more erect nipples.

The second trimester- In the second trimester (week 13 to week 28 of pregnancy), the female may notice darker skin around the nipples.

The third trimester- In the third trimester (week 29 to 40), the female’s breasts may start getting tender or may hurt again. As the female body prepares for breastfeeding, her nipples and breasts are likely to increase in size before childbirth.


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