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    Is breast pain during pregnancy normal?

    Published 17 April 2023
    Fact Checked
    Reviewed by Dr. Nazaneen Homaifar, Obstetrician and gynecologist, Inova Health System, Washington, DC, US
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    Grab a cold compress and a new supportive bra — there are lots of different ways to relieve sore boobs. 

    Between your clothes fitting differently and new weird and wonderful symptoms, it’s no secret that your body undergoes some pretty monumental changes during pregnancy. You’re growing a new human, after all. Many people feel these developments before they see them, as tender breasts can be one of the earliest signs that you’re pregnant

    While you might be no stranger to your breasts feeling tender at different points of your menstrual cycle (it’s a pretty common premenstrual syndrome symptom), you might not have expected pain during pregnancy. So to better understand this fairly common but frustrating symptom, a Flo expert has given you the lowdown on all things breast pain during pregnancy — from how common it is to what causes it and whether it’s normal.

    What does breast pain during pregnancy feel like? 

    Breast pain might not have been on your list of expected early pregnancy symptoms, but it’s actually very normal and usually isn’t something to worry about. A study found that over 75% of pregnant women experienced breast pain and tenderness during the first trimester. 

    Tenderness is a word that’s often used in relation to sore boobs, but breast pain during pregnancy can feel different from person to person. Everyone’s pregnancy is different,” says Dr. Angela Jones, obstetrician and gynecologist and attending physician at Jersey Shore University Medical Center, US. “One woman’s experience or perception may be different from another.” You might describe your different types of breast pain as: 

    You might also notice aches and pains under your arms. This is because your breast tissue extends to your armpits. To learn more about how your body changes during early pregnancy, you can use an app like Flo.

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    What causes it? 

    Pregnancy might not be the first time you experience sore boobs. In fact, one review found that up to 70% to 80% of women report breast pain at some point in their lives, and it can feel different for everyone. Dr. Jones says that one of the main causes of breast pain is hormonal changes, which explains why you experience them both during pregnancy and your menstrual cycle. 

    After you’ve conceived, your body releases a surge of the hormones estrogen, progesterone, and prolactin — the last of which helps your body to create breast milk. These hormones can impact the way your boobs look and feel. You might feel tenderness and tingles and may notice that your nipples and areolas (the skin around your nipples) look darker. Similarly, just before your period, your estrogen and progesterone levels rise. So, as your pregnancy progresses, your boobs might feel a little bit like they do before you start your period. 

    Does it last the whole pregnancy? 

    Breast tenderness and nipple sensitivity are some of the earliest signs of pregnancy, but breast pain isn’t limited to the first trimester. In fact, your breasts go through different changes as you move through the trimesters. 

    Changes in your first trimester 

    Now you know that sensitive breasts and nipples during the first few weeks of pregnancy are probably because of fluctuating hormones, you might be curious as to what’s going on in your body. “These pregnancy hormones cause the breasts to grow as they prepare for their transitioning role of milk production,” says Dr. Jones. She explains that during your first trimester, the blood flow to your chest area increases, the glands and ducts in your breasts prepare for the production of milk, and the skin around your boobs stretches as they increase in size. The changes to your boobs may have taken you by surprise, but it’s all totally normal. 

    Changes in your second trimester 

    Your doctor, friends, and family may have led you to believe that the symptoms of pregnancy can be split clearly across the three trimesters. However, it’s often not that simple, and no two pregnancies are the same. This means that while breast tenderness is a sign of pregnancy during your first trimester, you might continue to have sore boobs during your second trimester. “Again, the pain is likely due to the increase in hormones associated with pregnancy which causes the enlargement of milk glands,” says Dr. Jones. The pain might feel like tightening or throbbing, and there are different ways that you might be able to relieve some of your discomfort at home. Keep reading to find out how. 

    Changes in your third trimester 

    As you get closer to giving birth, your body continues to change. You might notice that your breasts grow more quickly in the weeks leading up to delivery. “During the third trimester, breasts may feel very full, heavy even,” Dr. Jones says. “The nipples may become more tingly, and the skin more sensitive to touch as you approach delivery.” So here’s what you can do about breast tenderness during pregnancy. 

    How to help relieve the pain 

    Even though sore and tender boobs are listed as one of the most common early pregnancy symptoms, it doesn’t mean it isn’t frustrating. “I always inform expectant moms that while pregnancy can be beautiful, it is not always the most comfortable state of existence,” Dr. Jones says. However, there are things you can do at home to help relieve the pain. 

    • Wear a more supportive bra: Wearing the right size bra is always important, whether you’re pregnant or not. However, you might want to look for a bra with wider straps or a thicker band to support your boobs as they grow. Dr. Jones also suggests that you might want to consider sleeping in a bra if your breasts feel heavy or tender. If you’re looking for a thrifty way to make sure you’re as comfortable as possible, you can buy a bra extender that will adapt the width of the bras you already own so you don’t have to buy new ones. After you’ve given birth you may want to buy nursing bras. 
    • Wear loose and soft clothing: When your nipples are feeling sensitive, even the softest fabric can feel unbearable. Try to find loose-fitting clothes and soft bras that won’t push against your breasts. 
    • Be gentle during intimacy: Explain to your partner that your boobs are feeling tender and that any caresses that might normally feel nice could be painful. 
    • Ice packs: Using a cold compress may help if your breasts feel swollen or painful.
    • Take a warm shower: Just as the cold can feel nice against your tender chest, taking a warm shower can help to relax the muscles and ease any swelling. 
    • Take over-the-counter painkillers: If you’re really uncomfortable, then you should speak to your doctor. Dr. Jones explains that they may recommend that you take over-the-counter pain medication to ease some of the discomfort. 

    Will it go away by itself? 

    Like many other symptoms of pregnancy, breast tenderness and pain often go away by themselves. You might notice a change in the way that your boobs feel in your first trimester, and then it may go away in your second trimester, or you might have discomfort throughout your whole pregnancy. Everybody is different, but if you’re worried about any of your pregnancy symptoms, then speak to your doctor. They’ll be able to talk you through what you might expect and suggest some different ways you might relieve the pain. 

    When should you see a doctor?

    You might have tried a cold compress, jumped in a hot shower, and bought some new supportive bras, and still, your boobs feel sore. This can be incredibly frustrating, and while breast pain might be accepted as a normal part of pregnancy, you could reach out to your doctor if:  

    Generally speaking, breast pain during pregnancy is incredibly normal. However, Dr. Jones says that if you experience, “Pain that is progressively getting worse or accompanied by other symptoms, such as fever, chills, a mass, or abnormal nipple discharge,” then you should speak to your doctor. “If you aren’t sure what is going on, call your physician,” she says. 

    Your doctor will be there for your boob-related questions after you give birth, too. “Breast pain during pregnancy generally resolves on its own. However, breast pain during the postpartum period may be due to other things such as infection, clogged milk glands, and poor latching technique,” Dr. Jones adds. If you’re experiencing discomfort after you’ve had your baby and aren’t sure why, don’t hesitate to reach out to your health care provider or a trained lactation consultant. 

    Breast pain during pregnancy: The takeaway 

    Long story short, pregnancy can be a pretty wonderful time filled with lots of exciting firsts. However, it’s not always comfortable, and you’re not alone if you find some of the symptoms frustrating. There are lots of different ways you might be able to relieve your sore and tender boobs during pregnancy. Generally, breast pain isn’t something you need to worry about. 

    If you notice other symptoms, like a fever or bloody or unusual discharge from your nipple, or you feel like your breast pain is worsening, it’s important to talk to your health care provider. But for the most part, reach for the ice pack and maybe try a warm shower — your body is going through some big changes, so try to find different ways to give yourself the care you deserve.


    “Breast Pain.” NHS, Accessed 21 Mar. 2023.

    “Breast Pain.” Mayo Clinic, 9 Feb. 2023,

    “Breast Pain (Mastalgia).” Cleveland Clinic, Accessed 21 Mar. 2023. 

    “Breast Pain: 10 Reasons Your Breasts May Hurt.” Johns Hopkins Medicine, 1 Nov. 2022,

    “Hormones during Pregnancy.” Stanford Medicine Children’s Health. Accessed 21 Mar. 2023.

    Nazik, Evsen, and Gulsen Eryilmaz. “Incidence of Pregnancy-Related Discomforts and Management Approaches to Relieve Them among Pregnant Women.” Journal of Clinical Nursing, vol. 23, no. 11–12, June 2014, pp. 1736–50.

    Sivarajah, Rebecca, et al. “A Review of Breast Pain: Causes, Imaging Recommendations, and Treatment.” Journal of Breast Imaging, vol. 2, no. 2, Mar. 2020, pp. 101–11.

    History of updates

    Current version (17 April 2023)

    Reviewed by Dr. Nazaneen Homaifar, Obstetrician and gynecologist, Inova Health System, Washington, DC, US

    Published (17 April 2023)

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