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When does breast stop hurting during pregnancy
Breast changes from pregnancy to weaning
From pregnancy, through breastfeeding, to after weaning, our experts explain how your breasts change – plus we give you tips on caring for them along the way
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As soon as you conceive, your body starts preparing for your baby’s arrival. But it’s not just your womb that’s busy – your breast anatomy begins changing radically too. Read on to find out what to expect as you journey through the trimesters, breastfeed your baby, and eventually wean her.
Breast changes in the first trimester
Many women experience breast changes in early pregnancy – in fact, it’s often the first sign you’re pregnant. Surging hormones and a shift in breast structure mean your nipples and breasts may feel sensitive and tender from as early as three or four weeks. Some mums-to-be have sore breasts during pregnancy right up until the birth, but for most it subsides after the first trimester.
“Breast growth in pregnancy may be rapid during the early weeks, or the size may increase gradually,” explains Dr Jacqueline Kent, a leading lactation researcher at the University of Western Australia. “Every woman is different. Your breasts might not actually grow much until shortly before – or even after – the birth. But if you’re wondering how much breasts grow during pregnancy in total, by the time your milk comes in they’re likely to be almost one-and-half times bigger than before you became pregnant!”1
Once your regular bras start feeling tight – usually by 12 weeks or so – it’s time to buy a maternity bra. Most women find a seamless style with wide straps in a soft, breathable fabric most comfortable. It’s best to avoid underwires, as they can dig into your developing milk ducts.
Get yourself measured properly to ensure a good fit. And get remeasured every couple of months throughout your pregnancy, as you’ll go through a few sizes as your baby and breasts grow.
Breast changes in the second trimester
From around your 15th week of pregnancy the new milk-producing cells in your breasts become active, and by around week 22 they start making milk.1 But don’t worry – most of this milk will be reabsorbed by your body, while your pregnancy hormones also prevent much from building up or escaping.
“During the second trimester, you may notice your nipples and areolae (the circles of skin surrounding them) becoming larger and darker,” says breastfeeding research associate at Medela Dr Danielle Prime. “Another way the areola changes is that the little bumps or pimples on it become more noticeable. These wonderfully named ‘Montgomery’s tubercles’ produce a moisturising oil that helps protect against soreness and infection once you start breastfeeding. In fact, scientists believe the smell of this oil is similar to amniotic fluid and may help guide your newborn to your nipples after she’s born.”2
Don’t strip these natural oils from your nipples by using harsh soap or rubbing them dry with a towel. Just use warm water and pat them dry. And if anyone suggests ‘toughening’ your nipples for breastfeeding by pinching or rubbing, ignore them!
If you have flat or inverted nipples, and you’re beyond week 32 of a healthy pregnancy, you could wear nipple formers inside your bra. These can help to gently draw out your nipples, making it easier for your newborn to latch on. Ask a healthcare professional or read our article about inverted or flat nipples for more advice.
If you experience a sudden increase in breast size during pregnancy, your breasts may feel itchy and you might develop stretch marks. A gentle moisturiser can help soothe the itch. However, stretch marks are normally a matter of genetics and skin type; if you’re predisposed to them, there’s not much you can do to prevent them – but the good news is they will fade and become much less noticeable over time.
Breast changes in the third trimester
Your breasts may start to feel heavy or sore again during the last trimester. Wearing a sleep bra in bed might make you more comfortable, and it’s a good idea to wear a supportive sports bra when you exercise to avoid breast pain and ligament damage.
Remember to get a couple of breastfeeding bras the month before your baby is due. If possible, buy from a shop that has a fitter experienced in nursing bras, or consult an online fitting guide. Every woman is different, but your breasts are likely to be around one to two bra cup sizes bigger than before pregnancy. Your band size will probably increase too, as your ribcage expands to make room for your baby. Your fitter should recommend a size that allows room for your milk to come in once your baby is born too. A style with clips that you can undo one-handed can make positioning your baby easier.
Amazingly your milk is ready in your breasts before your baby is born. This means your nipples might start leaking a little colostrum – early breast milk – which is rather thick and sticky. It can happen as early as 14 weeks, but is more common in late pregnancy. You can wear nursing pads inside your bra to stop damp patches showing through.
“If you have pre-existing or gestational diabetes, your healthcare professional may advise you to hand express some colostrum and freeze it. A recent study showed this is safe to do after the 36th week of an otherwise healthy pregnancy,”3 advises Dr Prime. “Having a supply of colostrum to hand can be helpful, because babies of diabetic mothers are at higher risk of experiencing low blood sugar levels (hypoglycaemia), and the best thing to help raise these levels is frequent feeds of colostrum. Don’t expect to be able to express large amounts though – you’ll probably only manage a few drops at a time and that’s perfectly OK.”
What happens to your breasts after birth
Around two to four days after your baby is born (sometimes longer if you’ve had a c-section or traumatic delivery), you’ll feel your breasts becoming much fuller and firmer as your milk comes in.4
“This fullness isn’t only caused by the extra milk you’re starting to produce – the amount of blood circulating around your breasts has also increased and there can be more lymphatic fluid in them too,” explains Dr Prime. “This is all happening in response to the decreasing levels of pregnancy hormones in your body (that have been dropping gradually since you gave birth), which allows your milk-production hormones to get to work.”
Your breasts might become uncomfortable or even painful over this period, a condition called engorgement. This is very common and usually wears off after a few days, during which time you should continue to breastfeed. Take a look at our tips on dealing with the discomfort and swelling, and if the problem persists speak to a lactation consultant or breastfeeding specialist.
What happens to your breasts during lactation
During the first three months or so of breastfeeding, your breasts will probably still feel quite full before a feed. As your baby grows, you may notice they don’t feel as full any more, but this doesn’t mean you’re making less milk. If you’re breastfeeding exclusively and on demand, and your baby is growing well, you should still be making plenty.
“After six months of breastfeeding, expect your breasts to start becoming smaller,” explains Dr Kent. “This is not an indication that you’re producing less milk, but it may be that you’re losing some of the fatty tissue in the breast. By the time your baby is 15 months old, you can expect your breasts to be the same volume they were before conception, but not smaller. This is true whether you’re still breastfeeding or not – you may still be producing 100 to 300 ml (3.5 to 10 fl oz) of milk per day.”
This seems to be because your breasts work more efficiently after six months, which Dr Kent’s study found may be due to a redistribution of breast tissue.5
How your breasts change after weaning
When you eventually stop breastfeeding your baby – whether that’s after three weeks, three months or three years – breast changes due to lactation will reverse. “When you wean completely you can expect your breasts to return to similar to preconception size over the next three months, if they haven’t already,” explains Dr Kent. But if you get pregnant again, the whole process will begin anew.
1 Cox DB et al. Breast growth and the urinary excretion of lactose during human pregnancy and early lactation: endocrine relationship. Exp Physiol. 1999;84(2):421-434.
2 Doucet S et al. The secretion of areolar (Montgomery’s) glands from lactating women elicits selective, unconditional responses in neonates. PLoS One. 2009;4(10):e7579.
3 Forster DA et al. Advising women with diabetes in pregnancy to express breastmilk in late pregnancy (Diabetes and Antenatal Milk Expressing [DAME]): a multicentre, unblinded, randomised controlled trial. Lancet. 2017;389(10085):2204-2213.
4 Infant and young child feeding: model chapter for textbooks for medical students and allied health professionals. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2009. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK148965/
5 Kent JC et al. Breast volume and milk production during extended lactation in women. Exp Physiol. 1999;84(2):435-447.
When Do Your Breasts Stop Hurting in Pregnancy?
Breast tenderness is common in early pregnancy.
For some women, having sore breasts is one of the first signs of pregnancy, even before a missed period.
Just like other early pregnancy symptoms, surging hormones are the reason for breast pain.
These hormones are working hard to sustain a healthy pregnancy, and preparing your breasts to feed your baby.
Most women feel relieved to know early pregnancy symptoms like morning sickness and exhaustion will usually pass by the time they reach the second trimester.
But what about breast pain?
When do your breasts stop hurting in pregnancy?
Does breast tenderness go away after implantation?
Implantation occurs when a fertilised egg travels down the fallopian tube and attaches itself to the uterine wall.
Implantation usually happens around 6-12 days after ovulation. This is technically week 3 or 4 of your pregnancy.
Implantation causes levels of hCG, estrogen and progesterone to increase rapidly. This sudden hormonal surge can cause your breasts to feel swollen or tender.
Swelling and tenderness are more likely to go away once your body has adjusted to the hormones, rather than right after implantation.
Adjusting to the hormonal change can take around 3 months, which is why most women start to feel better in their second trimester of pregnancy.
When do your breasts stop hurting in pregnancy?
Breast pain is often at its worst for most women during the first trimester.
Do your breasts stop hurting in the second trimester?
Estrogen and progesterone levels drop around the start of the second trimester, so it’s common for the level of breast pain to drop too.
Although you might experience relief from breast pain at this stage of pregnancy, it certainly doesn’t mean your breasts have stopped preparing for the birth of your baby.
In the second trimester, the milk-making cells in your breasts become activated. Around the 20th week of your pregnancy, your breast will start to produce colostrum.
Some women experience more breast pain in pregnancy than others. Other women might still have breast pain in the second trimester.
Just like other pregnancy symptoms, each woman’s experience is unique.
Your breasts will increase in size throughout your pregnancy and some pain can be relieved by having adequate support from the right bra.
If you haven’t already, now is a good time to be professionally fitted for a maternity bra.
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What part of the breasts hurt in early pregnancy?
Normal breast pain in pregnancy is commonly described as an all-over aching, swelling, tenderness or change in sensation in the breast or nipple.
You might have experienced breast pain before or during your period. Breast pain in pregnancy can be a similar feeling.
Some women report a more intense version of their usual premenstrual or menstrual pain.
Although a level of discomfort is a part of pregnancy, there are some other breast changes that aren’t caused by pregnancy and require medical attention.
You should seek a professional opinion from your healthcare provider if you experience any of the following breast changes during early pregnancy:
A lump in your breast or underarm
Nipple discharge (some can be normal during pregnancy)
Itchy, scaly, red, dimpled or puckered skin.
Can breast tenderness fluctuate in early pregnancy?
It’s very common in early pregnancy for any symptoms to fluctuate from one day to the next.
One day you might feel completely exhausted, only to feel fresh and re-energised the following day.
One night you might get up and go to the toilet several times and the next night you get up only once.
Just like other early pregnancy symptoms, breast tenderness can come and go.
Some women are lucky and don’t have much trouble with early pregnancy symptoms at all.
Other women experience pregnancy symptoms right up until the time they give birth.
Both circumstances are completely normal. Every woman has her own unique experience of pregnancy.
Can breast size fluctuate in pregnancy?
The most rapid period of breast growth during pregnancy is usually during the first trimester. It’s common for breast growth to become more gradual after this phase.
Some women notice another growth spurt in the third trimester, closer to the date of their baby’s birth.
Not only will your breasts increase in size, but other changes will take place too:
The areola (the skin around your nipple) becomes darker. This helps your baby locate the nipple on the breast
Bluish veins in your breasts become more prominent. This is due to increased blood flow
Montgomery’s Tubercles (little bumps) appear on your areola. These are sebaceous glands which help keep your nipples clean and supple.
All of these changes are normal and necessary to prepare your breasts for feeding your baby.
By the time you give birth and your milk comes in, your breasts will be around 1.5 times bigger than their pre-pregnancy size.
Is losing breast tenderness a sign of miscarriage?
One day you might be wondering: When do your breasts stop hurting in pregnancy? Then the next day you wake up without any breast pain.
You might feel worried rather than relieved if your breasts stop hurting during pregnancy. It’s normal to feel concerned when any pregnancy symptom suddenly disappears.
As already mentioned, breast tenderness can fluctuate. What you’re not feeling today might be back again next week.
A sudden change in pregnancy symptoms doesn’t always mean something is wrong. It could simply be due to a shift in hormones.
Just as morning sickness typically subsides after the first trimester, you can expect breast pain to subside at some point too.
If there are no other signs of complications – for example, if all of your other pregnancy symptoms disappear, or you have bleeding and cramping – then it’s likely to be just hormone shifts.
If you have concerns about any changes during your pregnancy, talk to your healthcare provider. It will help put your mind at ease.
You can read more about signs of miscarriage in BellyBelly’s article Signs You Might Be Experiencing An Early Miscarriage.
Do breasts go back to normal after pregnancy?
Pregnancy and childbirth cause a huge transformation in a woman’s body.
Changes in the size, shape and appearance of your breasts after pregnancy are inevitable.
Regardless of whether or not you breastfeed your baby, your breasts will go through the necessary development required to provide milk for your baby.
As well as wondering when do your breasts stop hurting in pregnancy, you might also be asking whether they will ever go back to ‘normal’.
Motherhood is a life-changing experience that brings about a new kind of normal. Your breasts (or any other body part) might not go back to looking or feeling exactly as they did pre-pregnancy.
Celebrate the incredible journey your body has been on to grow and bring your child into the world.
Instead of worrying about going back to ‘normal’, embrace the change and the amazing accomplishment your body has achieved.
Breast changes from the beginning of pregnancy to the end of breastfeeding
Medela's experts explain the changes that occur in the breast from the beginning of pregnancy to the end of breastfeeding, as well as tips for taking care of your breasts throughout this period.
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From the moment of conception, your body begins to prepare for the birth of your baby. This applies not only to the uterus - the anatomy of the breast also changes radically. This article will tell you what to expect in each trimester, during and after breastfeeding.
First trimester breast changes
Early in pregnancy, many women notice changes in their breasts. Moreover, often they become the first signs of pregnancy. Fluctuations in hormone levels and changes in the structure of the mammary glands can cause increased sensitivity and soreness of the nipples and breasts as early as the third or fourth week. For some pregnant women, breast tenderness persists until childbirth, but for most it goes away after the first trimester.
“Sometimes during pregnancy, breasts grow very quickly in the first weeks, and sometimes their size increases gradually,” says Dr. Jacqueline Kent, a leading lactation specialist at the University of Western Australia. “All women are different. For some, breast size may not change much until childbirth or even after them. In general, we can say that by the time the milk arrives, the breast will most likely become one and a half times larger than before pregnancy! 1
As soon as your regular bras start to feel tight (usually around 12 weeks), it's time to buy a maternity bra. The most comfortable, according to many women, are seamless models with wide straps made of soft, breathable fabric. It is best to avoid underwired bras as they can put pressure on the developing milk ducts.
It is important to take your measurements correctly in order to find the right bra with a good fit. Take measurements every couple of months, as you may need a different size bra as your baby grows and your breasts get bigger.
Breast changes in the second trimester
From about the 15th week of pregnancy, newly formed cells that produce milk are activated in the breast, and by about the 22nd week, production begins. 1 But don't worry - most of this milk will be absorbed by the body without going out, as pregnancy hormones prevent it from being overproduced or excreted.
“During the second trimester, you may notice that the nipples and areolas (the areas of skin around the nipples) become darker and larger,” says Dr. Daniel Prime, Medical Research Associate at Medela. tubercles - the so-called glands of Montgomery. They secrete oil that moisturizes the nipples and will protect them from inflammation and infection when you start to feed. Scientists believe that the smell of this fat is similar to the smell of amniotic fluid and helps the newborn baby find the nipple.” 2
Do not use harsh soap for breast hygiene and do not rub hard with a towel as this can damage this natural lubricant. Just wash your breasts with warm water and pat dry. And if someone tells you to pinch or rub your nipples to prepare them for breastfeeding, don't listen to them!
If you have flat or inverted nipples, your pregnancy is over 32 weeks, and your pregnancy is normal, you can try inserting special nipple formers* into your bra in consultation with your doctor. They help to gently pull out the nipples so that it is easier for the newborn to grasp them. Consult your healthcare professional or read our article on flat and inverted nipples to learn more.
If breast size increases dramatically during pregnancy, breast skin may itch and stretch marks may appear on it. A good moisturizer can help soothe itching. The appearance of stretch marks usually depends on genetics and skin type. If you have a predisposition to stretch marks, it is unlikely that you will be able to prevent them, but, fortunately, over time they will become lighter and less noticeable.
Breast changes in the third trimester
In the last trimester, you may again experience soreness and heaviness in your chest. A sleep bra will keep you comfortable at night, while a supportive sports bra will help you avoid soreness and ligament damage during exercise.
Don't forget to buy a pair of nursing bras one month before your baby is born. If possible, consult a specialist in the store or study the online guide to select the appropriate model and size. Every woman is different, but usually cups of a nursing bra are chosen one or two sizes larger than before pregnancy. The underbust girth may also increase as the ribcage expands to provide enough room for the baby. The sales assistant should choose the size of your bra, taking into account the appearance of milk after childbirth. Models with fasteners that can be unfastened with one hand make it easier to attach the baby to the breast.
Surprising but true: milk appears in the breast even before the baby is born. This is why your nipples may start to produce some colostrum (the first breast milk), which will be quite thick and sticky. Sometimes this happens as early as 14 weeks, but more often it still happens in late pregnancy. To avoid the appearance of stains and smudges on clothes, you can use special bra pads.
“If you have diabetes or have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, your doctor may tell you to express some colostrum by hand and freeze it. A recent study showed that after the 36th week it is quite safe if the pregnancy does not have other complications, 3 , says Dr. Prime, “Storing colostrum can come in very handy because babies with diabetic mothers are at higher risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and frequent colostrum feeding is the best remedy. . However, be prepared for the fact that there will be very little colostrum. You may only be able to express a few drops at first, and that’s perfectly fine.”
What happens to the breast after childbirth
Approximately two to four days after the baby is born (sometimes later if there was a caesarean section or a traumatic delivery), you will feel your breasts becoming heavier and firmer - this means that the milk has come. 4
“This breast fullness is not only due to excessive milk production – there is also an increase in the amount of blood circulating around the breast and the volume of lymphatic fluid,” explains Dr. Prime, “All this is the result of a gradual decrease in pregnancy hormone levels that began after the birth of a child and which allows the hormones responsible for the production of milk to enter into work.
During this period, you may experience soreness and discomfort in your breasts, a condition called breast swelling. This is quite common and usually resolves after a few days, during which time breastfeeding must continue. Read on for our tips on how to relieve swelling and discomfort, and if the problem persists, see a lactation consultant or healthcare provider.
What happens to the breast during lactation
For about the first three months of breastfeeding, your breasts are likely to fill up a lot before feeding. Over time, you may notice that your breasts become less full, but this does not mean at all that your milk production has decreased. If you are breastfeeding your baby exclusively and on demand, and at the same time he is growing well, then everything is in order with the amount of milk.
“Be prepared for the fact that after six months of breastfeeding, your breast size will begin to decrease,” Dr. Kent explains, “This is not a sign that your body is producing less milk. Most likely, the amount of adipose tissue in the breast simply decreased. By the time your baby is 15 months old, your breasts may be back to their pre-pregnancy size, but not smaller. However, whether you continue breastfeeding or not, you may still produce 100 to 300 ml of milk per day.”
This may be due to the start of more efficient milk production after six months of breastfeeding, which, according to Dr. Kent's research, may be the result of redistribution of breast tissue. 5
How your breasts change after you stop breastfeeding
When you finally stop breastfeeding—be it after three weeks, three months, or three years—the breast changes associated with lactation disappear. “After the complete cessation of breastfeeding, the breasts, as a rule, return to the size that they were before pregnancy. This usually happens in about three months, and for someone else while breastfeeding,” Dr. Kent explains, “If you get pregnant again, the whole process starts all over again. ”
1 Cox DB et al. Breast growth and the urinary excretion of lactose during human pregnancy and early lactation: endocrine relationship. Exp Physiol . 1999;84(2):421-434. - Cox D.B. et al., "Breast growth and urinary lactose excretion during pregnancy and lactation: an endocrine relationship." Exp Physiol. 1999;84(2):421-434.
2 Doucet S et al. The secretion of areolar (Montgomery’s) glands from lactating women elicits selective, unconditional responses in neonates.PLoS One . 2009;4(10): e 7579. - Doucet S. et al., "Papillary gland secretion (Montgomery's glands) in lactating women induces a selective unconditioned response in the newborn." PLOS One. 2009;4(10):e7579.
3 Forster DA et al. Advising women with diabetes in pregnancy to express breastmilk in late pregnancy (Diabetes and Antenatal Milk Expressing [DAME]): a multicentre, unblinded, randomized controlled trial. Lancet. 2017;389(10085):2204-2213. - Forster D.A. et al., "Women with Gestational Diabetes are Recommended to Express Milk at the End of Pregnancy (Diabetes and Antenatal Pumping [ DAME ]): a multicenter, open, randomized, controlled trial. Lancet (Lancet). 2017;389(10085):2204- 2213.
4 Infant and young child feeding: model chapter for textbooks for medical students and allied health professionals, Geneva : World Health Organization ; 2009. AVAILABLE FROM : https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/NBKS/NBK148965/ - "POSTICION" POSTICION "POSTRISS" POSTRIMENT "POST textbook for students of medical and related professions. Geneva: World Health Organization, 2009. Article cited: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK148965/
5 Kent JC et al. Breast volume and milk production during extended lactation in women. Exp Physiol. 1999;84(2):435-447. - Kent J.S. et al., "Amount and production of breast milk during long-term lactation in women". Ex Physiol. 1999;84(2):435-447.
Read instructions before use. Consult a specialist about possible contraindications.
* RU No. ФСЗ 2010/07352 dated 07/19/2010
When the chest stops hurting during early pregnancy, it should, a week
Pregnancy and childbirth
When the chest stops hurting during pregnancy, it is best to tell the doctor about it 3
Morsa Images/ DigitalVision/ Getty Images
Should breasts hurt in early pregnancy?
A pregnant woman's breasts increase in volume. Nipples and areolas darken and become more sensitive. Often a vascular network appears on the chest.
This is due to a change in the hormonal background in the body. The amount of the hormone progesterone produced by the ovaries and adrenal glands actively increases during pregnancy. Therefore, in the first trimester, pregnant women often have chest pains. And that's okay.
What does it mean if the breast stops hurting before the 13th week?
Every woman is unique. Some notice a slight swelling of the mammary glands and barely noticeable pain in the chest, which soon pass. Others have chest pain, which began at the very beginning, does not leave until the end of pregnancy.
But there are situations when a breast that has stopped hurting is an alarming symptom:
Missed pregnancy. With it, the soreness of the mammary glands disappears. The chest becomes soft. Most often, the embryo stops developing for a period of 8 weeks.
Threat of miscarriage due to lack of progesterone hormone. If you consult a doctor in time and establish a lack of this hormone, then everything can be corrected. To save the child, the woman is prescribed "Duphaston", "Utrozhestan" or injections of "Progesterone".
Thyroid or pituitary disorder. It can be expressed as a loss of soreness in the mammary glands, as well as increased discomfort. Lack of timely treatment of this disease will lead to termination of pregnancy.
A woman may not only stop having breast pain, but also develop other symptoms. With the appearance of such abnormalities as pain in the lower abdomen, bleeding from the vagina, a sharp increase in body temperature or feeling unwell, you should urgently seek medical help.
But sometimes everything is completely harmless. From the second trimester, the production of progesterone is reduced, and completely stops by the time of childbirth. Therefore, the chest stops hurting, and the baby develops normally.
It often happens that women, because of excessive impressionability, worry in vain and invent symptoms of various diseases for themselves.