Uncategorized Article · 7 July 2023

Nipple pain during pregnancy: causes, how to deal with it and when to consult a doctor?

Pregnancy is not only a time full of emotions and joy in anticipation of the birth of a child. It is also – unfortunately – numerous discomforts and discomfort. From the first weeks of pregnancy, your body will give you signals about the changes taking place in it. One of the common symptoms, in addition to the stoppage of your period and morning nausea, is nipple pain. The breasts of the mother-to-be may also become more puffy and sensitive to touch. What are the most common causes of nipple pain in pregnancy? When is it a physiological phenomenon, and when is it necessary to consult a doctor in pregnancy? Read the article to learn the answer to all these questions.

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Why does nipple pain occur during pregnancy?


Nipple pain and breast tenderness and soreness during pregnancy are the result of the hormonal storm that rages in a woman’s body at that time. This is because there is an intense increase in estrogen and progesterone levels. By the way, the same thing happens to women’s breasts before menstruation – they also become painful and more sensitive to touch.


Causes of nipple pain during pregnancy


During pregnancy, under the influence of the aforementioned hormones, much more blood flows through the breasts. Milk ducts also develop intensively, which is supposed to prepare the breasts of the future mother for their vital role – to produce food for the baby and feed him. In addition, around the 6.-7th week of pregnancy, the breasts gradually begin to increase in size, the nipples darken, and the sebaceous nodules on the areola of the nipples – the so-called Montgomery glands – become more visible.


How to relieve nipple pain during pregnancy?


The fact that nipple pain during pregnancy is a physiological phenomenon does not mean that a woman is left only to accept it. All the more so, because relieving nipple pain does not have to be difficult at all. There are several proven ways to make the pain less severe. How can a mom-to-be help herself?


  • By properly choosing a bra: it is best that it is made of soft, natural material that will not irritate the nipples and will provide adequate support for the growing breasts. A comfortable sports bra, without seams and whalebones, will do well – they can put pressure on swollen breasts, only increasing discomfort.


  • Making cold compresses: these can be ice packs or using special gel compresses. However, it is important not to apply them directly to the delicate skin of the breasts, but apply them wrapped, for example, with a cloth.


Worth reading: abdominal pain at the beginning of pregnancy: causes, advice, when to go to the doctor?

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When can nipple pain in pregnancy be a cause for concern?


Being pregnant, it is worth remembering that the special time you are currently in does not exclude the possibility of disease. It is a myth that a pregnant woman cannot develop breast cancer. She can, just as she did when she was not yet pregnant. Not only that! Breast cancer in pregnant women is usually diagnosed at a more advanced stage than in the non-pregnant population. This probably has to do with the fact that a growing tumor in the breast is treated as a physiological response of the glandular tissue to hormonal changes characteristic of pregnancy itself precisely. In addition, both in society and, unfortunately, among many doctors, there is still a misconception that breast cancer in a young pregnant woman simply cannot occur, which, of course, misses the truth. [1] Therefore, any disturbing change observed by a mother-to-be, such as: change in the shape of the breast, ulceration of the skin on the breast, retraction of the nipple, should be immediately reported to the doctor.


Breast care during pregnancy: how to take care of your breasts?


During pregnancy, a woman’s breasts require special care and maintenance. This is because over the course of the next 9 months they can increase their dimensions even twice, which unfortunately will promote the formation of unsightly stretch marks. To avoid them, in addition to the already mentioned purchase of a well-fitting bra, it is worth stocking up on moisturizing and firming creams that will prevent their formation. It is crucial that such a preparation has a positive opinion of the Institute of Mother and Child. In their composition we can find, among others, cocoa butter, shea butter or sweet almond oil. Ladies who are afraid to use drugstore cosmetics during pregnancy can also reach for natural vegetable oils.


And what for sore nipples? In this case, a cream with lanolin will be perfect to soothe irritation. Breast care during pregnancy, however, does not have to be limited to the use of appropriate creams. Wanting to firm the breasts, the mom-to-be can also successfully use alternating showers, using hot and cold water, which improve microcirculation. [2]


Read also: safe cosmetics during pregnancy: which ones to avoid and what to pay attention to when shopping?


In conclusion, pregnancy is a period full of changes and contrasts for a woman. The joy of expecting an offspring is often overshadowed by malaise and pregnancy ailments. One such symptom can be pain in the nipples during pregnancy, for which hormonal changes are responsible. However, wearing a comfortable bra and applying cold compresses can help alleviate it. It is worth remembering that nipple pain in pregnancy can be both a physiological condition and a signal of impending disease. Therefore, any disturbing change in the breasts, the mother-to-be should consult a doctor. During pregnancy, it is also important to properly care for the breasts to prevent the formation of stretch marks. It consists primarily in the use of cosmetics with firming and moisturizing properties.


[1] Standards of management in cases of cancer in pregnant women. Part III. Breast cancer, thyroid cancer, “Varia Medica”, 2017, Vol. 1, No. 1.

[2] S. Bojarska-Hurnik: Skin care during pregnancy, “Cosmetologia Estetyczna” 2019, Vol.8, 2. pp. 259-262.

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