Swollen Breasts During Pregnancy

Submitted by Nic on January 16, 2012

There are many signs and symptoms of pregnancy and being aware of them allows one to have an easier and healthier pregnancy. Tender and swollen breasts are a common symptom of menstruation. They are also a prominent sign of pregnancy and are experienced by most pregnant women. It is also one of the early signs of pregnancy. Read more on itchy breasts.

Swollen breasts during pregnancy along with tenderness and soreness usually occur about a week after conception takes place.

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However some women may not experience this until after about 4 to 6 weeks. Some women may also not experience this symptom at all. Since swelling and tenderness of the breasts occurs around the time of a missed period, some women may mistake it for menstruation.


The breasts swell and become tender because of hormonal changes taking place in the body. There is an increase in blood flow to the breasts and this leads to increased sensitivity. The breast tissue also changes as milk ducts start developing. This is what leads to lumpy and hard breasts during pregnancy. Swelling and tenderness is likely to occur in the first trimester. The nipples may also enlarge and become hard.

The veins in the breast region also become more prominent. Usually the pain and soreness tends to ease after the first three months. The breast size during pregnancy also increases as layers of fat start developing beneath the breasts. Apart from pregnancy, swollen and tender breasts may occur due to factors such as intake of birth control pills, pre-menstrual symptoms, use of certain medications and menopause. Many women become aware that they are pregnant when they experience swelling and tenderness of the breasts in addition to other symptoms such as nausea, tiredness and spotting. Pregnancy may be confirmed by taking a pregnancy test which detects the presence of the pregnancy hormone in the body. The pregnancy hormone is also known as human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG).

There are some ways to reduce the discomfort caused by swollen and tender breasts. It is beneficial to wear cotton bras that fit comfortably. The clothes one wears should also be loose and comfortable so that skin irritation does not occur. Gentle massages also help to alleviate discomfort. Use moisturizing oils such as olive oil or almond oil. Skin lotions and creams may also be rubbed into the skin after a bath. Cool compresses are also effective in alleviating swelling and tenderness in the breasts.

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