Having hard nipples is not the only sign of pregnancy, so don’t start panicking. You have to mark off the entire checklist to be labeled “with child.” So, hear me out before you resort to a quick pregnancy test.
It is true that when you conceive, your nipples become tender. However, breast tenderness, accompanied by hard nipples, doesn’t necessarily mean you are pregnant. Numerous reasons could be behind this. They are listed below:
3 Possible Causes Of Hard Nipples
You can’t possibly buy a pregnancy testing kit every time your nipples hurt. Pregnancy hormones do make nipples hard, but this is only one symptom of pregnancy. If it isn’t accompanied by any other symptoms like nausea, a missed period, or other early signs of pregnancy, then the cause could be any of the following:
Your breasts become tender around menstruation. This is considered normal for a lot of women as their menstrual cycle approaches. You have hormones to blame for this. This usually happens during PMS when hormonal levels in the blood are low. This low level causes pain. Once the period starts, women see the tenderness and pain slip away in days.
Breastfeeding your toddler is no easy feat. In the beginning, breastfeeding causes immense pain to the mother. This happens because oftentimes, harmless lumps start to form in the breasts for milk production. But once they persist, they become painful.
Hormones are usually the cause of changes in your breasts. Pain in one breast or both at the same time is especially attributed to hormonal changes in the body. The formation of bumps and lumps inside the breasts that cause breast pain is also due to hormones.
There are other factors not included in the previous list. Even though it’s rare, you can have symptoms of breast cancer. Many women complaining of breast pain or breast discharge can have breast cancer, so it is always best to consult a doctor before panicking. Hard nipples are also a result of cold weather.
What Nipple Feel Like During Early Pregnancy?
Your entire body changes during pregnancy. Similarly, breast changes occur during the 9 months of pregnancy in size, shape, and in terms of pigmentation. The nipples become hard, and due to pigmentation, you will see dark circles around them. Throughout the pregnancy and after birth, you will notice darker nipples.
In addition, the veins appear clearer around the nipple area and the size of the nipples also increases. This happens in the initial months of the pregnancy. Afterward, you will also notice small bumps in the areola surrounding the nipples. They are part of an oil-producing gland and become less pronounced as you deliver your baby. The appearance of veins may be due to increased production and blood flow in a pregnant body.
Around the second trimester, your breasts will start producing colostrum that will ooze out of your nipples. Colostrum is a healthy liquid for the baby and can be stored for later use. You can squeeze it out through nipple stimulation by the end of your third trimester. This also helps induce labor.
Types of Breast Pain
You can expect anything during pregnancy. Breast pain comes in various forms, and the types that exist will utterly shock you. All of us have heard of sore breasts. But a lot more comes with sore breasts. The pain can spread to one or both breasts. It may also expand and reach your armpits, making you extremely uncomfortable.
In the initial stages of pregnancy, you can expect swollen breasts. Your breast area may feel heavy. The pain gets achy, and sensitivity goes through the roof. You feel pain even doing the lightest tasks, such as touching, exercising, and even walking if you don’t wear a sports bra. A sports bra helps keep your breasts covered and firmly handled so that the pain subsides a little. Or else you can’t put even a bit of pressure on your breasts.
At times the pain becomes so unbearable that you feel it’s impossible to wear a bra. The itching and sensitivity remain for the first few weeks. But as time goes by, the sore feeling and the tenderness change into tingling. The pain goes away. The sharp or rising pain as if you are stabbed in the breasts also occurs among women although instances this is rare.
Tips to Relieve Breast Pain
Breast pain during pregnancy can be quite a handful. Fortunately, you can try a few tips to subside the pain and make your day a little bit more comfortable.
Start by wearing a sports bra. Sports bras are not only effective in supporting your breasts and decreasing the pain you have due to hanging weight, but they also fit perfectly even if you are changing sizes, which happens a lot during pregnancy.
So instead of a regular bra, a sports bra is a smarter option. You can even wear it to bed if you are too uncomfortable sleeping without a bra.
Forget about wearing tight clothes. That is not going to happen till your breast tenderness is completely gone. Replace tight-fitting clothes with loose tops and softer fabrics. Try on fabrics that don’t make you itch constantly.
Go for loose-fitting or flowy clothes, not just loose tops. By the third trimester, you might not want to wear tight-fitting clothes ever again. In addition, remove any clothes that cause any sort of irritation to your breasts from your wardrobe till you give birth.
The breasts become so sensitive during pregnancy that even wearing clothes can become hard. At such a time, having intimacy with your partner becomes impossible. So make sure to tell your partner not to touch your breasts.
Until your breasts are at ease, he is not allowed to lay a finger on them, no matter how much he wants to. Let him know his patience will be rewarded. But for now, your breasts need some space.
Using a cold pack over your breasts is a great idea. These days, women are resorting to newer ideas and use frozen bras for a soothing effect on their tender breasts. In addition, you can also try a pack of frozen peas to relieve your pain and give your breasts a few soothing moments.
Similarly, some people find a warm compress to soothe their breasts. If a cold compress doesn’t take away your discomfort, try warm showers to relieve yourself of breast irritation.
You can try these tips for pain relief. However, as a permanent symptom of fast hormonal changes in the body during pregnancy, you can reduce the pain, but you can’t make it go away altogether.
Breast Pain: Pregnancy VS PMS
Breast pain in pregnancy and PMS are very similar. At times, when you are thinking you might be pregnant, you are only undergoing PMS. It is very common to mistake early signs of a period for early signs of pregnancy. So you might get your period when you thought it was a pregnancy.
You can’t tell if breast tenderness is due to pregnancy or PMS. There is no crystal clear criterion. In both cases, hormones are at play. Before your period, hormonal levels are lower compared to after. These lower levels of hormones result in breast pain.
In early signs of pregnancy, instead of getting your period, you will experience implantation bleeding, which is light spotting. You can mistake this for a period; however, this is a clear indication of pregnancy.
This shows the difference between period breast pain and pregnancy breast tenderness. You can further confirm if you are pregnant by other symptoms like frequent urination, morning sickness, or bloating.
Breast Changing Stages During Pregnancy
Your breasts undergo multiple changes during pregnancy. This is mainly due to the body getting ready to house a baby for the next 9 months. This requires a lot of quick and drastic changes, especially in hormone production. As hormonal levels fluctuate, the breasts are also impacted.
You can expect these stages in your changing breasts during pregnancy:
In the first trimester, you will experience growth in your breast size. In the early months, when you are two to three months pregnant, your breasts grow to a humongous size. This happens even before your belly grows. It doesn’t stop but continues till you start breastfeeding your baby. You should expect a growth of at least one to two cup sizes if you are expecting your first baby.
The hard part is your breasts get itchy. Not only that, but experience the pain of stretch marks as your breasts go back to their normal size. That’s all part of the whole pregnancy process. So you should be proud of yourself for getting through something so significant.
Moving on, the next change you will notice in your breasts is the appearance of veins. Your areola will become darker, but the area near it will be clearer and show your veins. This is one of the first early pregnancy symptoms you will notice in your breasts besides changes in size.
Like bumps appearing on your areola, you will experience lumps inside your breasts. They might feel like a lot to handle, but they are totally harmless, benign breast tumors that form purposefully as milk ducts. These help the breasts in milk production before milk colostrum leaks out of the nipples. But these tumors aren’t anything serious and are only a part of changes that breasts undergo during pregnancy.
If they cause you excessive discomfort, you can always contact your doctor and get medical attention.
Medical Reasons for Breast Change During Pregnancy
Hormone production happens at a fast rate during pregnancy. Be it estrogen, progesterone levels, prolactin, or HCG. Fertilization causes the abundant production of these hormones in the pregnant woman’s body. As other parts of the body change, so do the breasts.
As these hormones work towards milk production, they increase the size of the breasts. As the size increases, the growth makes your breasts hurt. The breast tissue swells and makes the breasts even bigger. This process continues till birth.
The HCG hormone, commonly known as the pregnancy hormone, is responsible for increasing blood volume in the body. It also affects breast growth.
The breasts are preparing for breastfeeding, and the changes are part of that preparation. That is what causes tenderness. In addition to the size and pain, the pigment cells in the nipple area darken the areola so that the baby can see the nipple clearly during lactation.
By the end of the first trimester, the breasts also produce and stores colostrum. This further adds to the size of the breasts.
So now you know you won’t get a positive pregnancy test every time your breasts are sore. Several factors cause breast soreness, such as PMS, menstruation, cold, breastfeeding, and hormones. Be sure to visit your healthcare provider if you aren’t comfortable with the consistent breast pain.
Breast pain and erect nipples are some of the common symptoms of pregnancy. But as the pregnancy progresses, your breasts change. Different types of breast pain occur. The pain goes away as the pregnancy advances and may return only after breastfeeding.