Breast tenderness during pregnancy is a very common thing. In fact, it is often one of the very first signs that you are pregnant. Breast tenderness simply refers to the soreness, swelling, and sensitivity that you feel in your breasts during pregnancy. Typically, this tenderness begins between the fourth and sixth week of pregnancy, and continues through the first trimester. Most women will find that their breast tenderness disappears in the second and third trimesters, although you may notice that your breasts do feel sore from time to time throughout your pregnancy.
What Causes Breast Tenderness During Pregnancy?
Breast tenderness and sensitivity occurs during pregnancy as a result of all the changes that your body is going through. Your breasts must prepare to feed your baby, and therefore they need to grow and develop, which often causes swelling and soreness. Specifically, breast tenderness is caused by the increase in hormone levels that happens during pregnancy. To prepare for baby, your body increases its levels of estrogen and progesterone. This increase in hormones causes blood to rush to your breasts, making them sensitive to the touch.
You breast tissue will also begin to change. Milk ducts and milk-producing cells will begin to form, causing your breasts to grow and change shape. More layers of fat beneath will begin to develop under your breasts, which will likely cause your breasts to increase in size. All of these factors contribute to the tenderness, soreness, and swelling that you are experiencing.
Here are some easy, effective strategies for keeping the discomfort under control.
Wear the right bra. The most effective way to control monthly breast pain is to wear a comfortable bra that provides good support. Doctors usually recommend that women wear a support bra rather than an underwire bra when their breasts are most tender. You may even want to wear the bra while you sleep. The bra should cup the breasts firmly, without binding or biting.
Try some cold comfort . You can take the same approach for tender breasts that you would for a sore back or a pulled shoulder muscle. Fill a plastic bag with ice cubes and wrap a towel around it. Then apply it to your tender areas for ten to fifteen minutes at a time. (You can also use commercial cold packs or the re-freezable packs that come with coolers). This will slow the flow of fluids to the breasts, which will help reduce the swelling.
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Add more fiber to your diet . Research has shown that eating foods high in dietary fiber, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, can help lower the amount of estrogen circulating in the bloodstream. For many women, this can help control monthly breast pain.
Cut back on salt. When you get a lot of salt in your diet the body begins retaining fluids, causing the breasts to swell. Eating less salt when your period is approaching will help reduce swelling as well as tenderness.
Trim fat from your diet . A diet that’s high in fat isn’t only bad for your heart – it can increase breast pain as well. Experts believe that eating large amounts of fat can interfere with the production of chemicals in the body that are responsible for reducing breast pain. In addition, dietary fat has a way of turning into body fat, and fatty tissue has been shown to interfere with the body’s ability to regulate estrange. Doctors recommend getting no more than 20 to 25 per cent of your total daily calories from fat. The best way to reduce fat in your diet is to cut back on the worst offenders – high-fat foods such as mayonnaise, red meats, margarine, butter, ice cream, and cheeses.
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