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Combating Nipple Pain While Pregnant

By HERWriter Blogger
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Most women understand that they may experience tenderness and soreness in their breasts after giving birth because of the hormone shifts. They also can comprehend the idea that breastfeeding (or refusing to breastfeed) can also cause pain and tenderness in the nipple area and throughout the breast.

However, there are many moms-to-be who didn’t know that nipple pain can start early on during the pregnancy and can last the whole nine months. Pregnant women can experience breasts and nipples that are sore, swollen, tingly, and extremely sensitive to the touch.

The cause of nipple pain and breast tenderness during pregnancy can be blamed on the excess of the hormones estrogen and progesterone that are coursing through a woman’s body at this sensitive time.

There is also more fat (the good kind) that is building up in the breast, and there is an increased blood flow to the area as well. All these changes are perfectly normal and necessary as the woman’s body is getting ready to produce milk to feed the child growing inside her. But, while the changes are “normal” that doesn’t mean they feel that way to the woman.

In addition to the nipple pain, a pregnant woman may notice that her nipples are more erect than usual. They may also protrude from the breast more, too. Though the fuller breasts and nipples might rival some adult movie stars, they are most likely incredibly tender and feel anything but sexy to the woman.

In addition, the mom-to-be might also notice the areola, the dark area around her nipple, is darker, spotted, and/or bigger. These changes can increase throughout the pregnancy.

It is probable that the areola will also be sporting Montgomery tubercles, little bumps that are actually sweat glands, which are designed to supply lubrication to the breast area. Again, these changes are necessary and normal but along with everything else shifting in a woman’s body, they can make pregnancy uncomfortable in many ways.

To combat the breast tenderness and nipple pain during pregnancy, a woman should make sure to tell her partner what is going on with her and what is acceptable and unacceptable at that stage in the pregnancy. This is especially important when it comes to being intimate together.

Wearing a good fitting bra throughout the pregnancy can also help make a woman’s breasts more comfortable and can potentially help to prevent stretching and sagging of the breast tissue later on. A breathable, cotton sports bra can be helpful when sleeping if a woman’s breasts and/or nipples are sore or uncomfortable while sleeping.


WhatToExpect.com. Web. 6 February 2012. “Symptoms and solutions: Breast Tenderness”. http://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/symptoms-and-solutions/breast-tenderness.aspx

Babycenter.com. Web. 6 February 2012. “Breast changes during pregnancy.” http://www.babycenter.com/0_breast-changes-during-pregnancy_262.bc

Reviewed February 7, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

Add a Comment7 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

Can postonor 1 change mensuration time

November 10, 2017 - 1:55am
EmpowHER Guest

Just let them loose at bedtime, and whenever you are in your house in bummy clothes. I only wear bras when I go out to work or something, and I went up a cup size with my maternity bras so that they don't hurt my nipples as much.

August 7, 2017 - 3:05am
EmpowHER Guest

I am 20wks and i experience extreme nipple pain every day for about the last 2-3 mths. Its excruciating to the point where i have to tend to it. I use warm cloths or a heating pad to cover my nipples for a few mins. Its the only method that works for me.

November 13, 2014 - 8:53pm
EmpowHER Guest

Breast and nipple pain dissappears when you STOP wearing a bra. Women's breasts are natural and perfectly formed for what they are designed to do without discomfort, they don't need to be "supported" any more than women needed corsets for support in the 19th century. Bras are all just marketing folks, not a necessity and they don't benefit anything, and infact cause more harm than they help. I was having terrible pain in my pregnancy, but once I gave up and stopped giving a shit what people think, I stopped wearing a bra and the pain immediately stopped, haven't had a problem since (and my breasts are perkier) try going braless for about a month and you'll see what I mean, doesn't matter what size you are either-- my bust is quite big.

July 21, 2014 - 8:56am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Well it's nice when you actually have nice breast to sport, but I am not nor its any one else wanting to see everybody breasts just daggling in their shirts, dogs were meant to run free too, but most people agree that keeping them on a leash is a good idea, therefore, unless your pregnant and avoiding pain, keep your dogs on a leash too.

November 6, 2015 - 9:35am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

But breasts aren't dogs. Also, regardless of what other people may think, ultimately it's up to each individual to decide what is comfortable for them. The opinions of outsiders should not hinder someone from doing what is best for them.

December 30, 2016 - 3:50pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Completely agree with this post. I've been having extreme breast and nipple pain over the past week and finally just threw in the towel so to speak. For the first day, I'm actually having a little relief.

August 20, 2015 - 4:45am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.