Most women know their bodies will change during pregnancy, but many newly pregnant women don’t realise nipple pain can begin early in pregnancy and continue throughout the entire nine months. In fact, sore nipples can be one of the first pregnancy symptoms a woman experiences.
The pain can range from feeling tender to tingling and aching. If you experience sore nipples and tender breasts before the onset of your period, you will have some indication of how sore and tender your nipples might become during pregnancy.
Sore Nipples During Pregnancy
While uncomfortable and even downright annoying, having sore nipples is a sign your body is preparing to nourish your baby after birth.
Why Do My Nipples Hurt?
During pregnancy, you will have higher levels of the two hormones estrogen and progesterone. These hormones are responsible for many of the symptoms you experience during pregnancy. They are responsible for breast tenderness and sore nipples, which can be one of the earliest signs you are pregnant!
During the first three months of pregnancy, fat builds up in the breasts and the milk ducts increase in size quite rapidly. This, as well as increased blood flow to the area, can also cause breast and nipple tenderness.
How To Relieve Sore Nipples During Pregnancy
Some women find the increased sensitivity of their breasts and nipples can be a bonus during sex, while other women can’t stand the idea of being touched by their clothes, let alone by their partners. Make sure you talk to your partner about how you and your body are feeling. You might like to consider the following tips to help improve nipple soreness. They might not give you complete relief but should help you to cope better with pain and tenderness.
#1: Invest In The Right Bra
Avoid wearing under-wired bras as they are usually uncomfortable during pregnancy. A good maternity bra or sports bra will help keep your breasts in place, to minimise discomfort, and will accommodate your growing breasts. The thicker fabric can also be less irritating to tender nipples.
#2: Get Fitted For The Right Bra
Wearing a bra that doesn’t fit properly will increase your pain and discomfort; it’s important to wear the right cup size. And think ahead – your breasts will probably continue to grow, so make sure you upgrade as needed.
#3: Sleep In Your Bra
Many pregnant women find sleeping in a bra or a cotton sports bra helps to limit discomfort at night. Make sure your bra isn’t so tight that it constricts blood flow.
#4: Wear Breast Pads
In the early weeks of pregnancy, the nipples are often extremely sensitive to touch. This can be really difficult to cope with, and the lining of your usual bra might cause irritation, especially if the fabric is made of lace. Wearing breast pads can help protect your nipples from irritation, and reduce the pain.
#5: Water Therapy
Warm water can ease the pain and aching you might be experiencing. Showers can sometimes increase irritation if the water jet is too strong or falls directly onto your breasts. Immersing yourself in a warm bath and gently moving the water across your nipples and breasts might bring relief.
#6: Cool Compresses
Due to increased blood flow, the temperature of your breasts will increase somewhat. This will cause a tingling sensation which can become unbearable. You can ease this by placing a washcloth soaked in cool water, an ice pack, or even cold cabbage leaves on your breasts.
#7: Avoid Irritants
Avoid using soaps; they can dry out the skin on your breasts and nipples, making them more prone to irritation. Creams containing calendula and chamomile are soothing, and can ease discomfort. Virgin coconut oil might also help. Try a clothes washing detergent designed for sensitive skin, and see if it makes any difference.
#8: Treat Them Gently
You might be doing everything you can to avoid anything touching your sore nipples during pregnancy. Make sure your partner knows not to touch your breasts, especially unexpectedly. This includes during sex, but also when hugging or even sitting next to you on the couch. If you have other children, explain to them about being gentle with your body.
#9: Sore Nipples When Nursing
If you are nursing while pregnant and don’t wish to wean, being prepared for sore nipples during this time can help. If you can, try distracting yourself with a book or watching TV while breastfeeding. Make sure your nursing child latches correctly and encourage gentle nursing – no acrobatics!
#10: Keep Hydrated
You should be drinking plenty of water during pregnancy anyway, but it can also help reduce discomfort. Water retention can cause tenderness and swelling, and women who are dehydrated often find they retain water in the breast area. Reducing your salt intake, while at the same time increasing your water intake, will bring a lot of relief.
Sore nipples during pregnancy, particularly in the first trimester, is a common problem, and usually a sign of rising levels of pregnancy hormones. The good news is, your nipples should progressively become less sensitive and tender into the second trimester. Talk to your care provider if you have any concerns. Electrolytes (for example, Endura – not sugary sports drinks) are a great way to make sure you’re adequately hydrated.