As your body gears up to support your growing baby, you produce more of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone.
A similar hormone surge happens to you before a period, so this tenderness is probably an exaggerated version of how your breasts feel then.
Your breasts may become so tender that your usual bra becomes really uncomfortable. You may not like having your breasts touched.
You may have noticed this tenderness from about three weeks or four weeks of your pregnancy, before you even did a pregnancy test.
Along with the effects of a hormone surge, your breasts are likely to be getting bigger. The fat layer in your breasts thickens, you grow more milk glands, and blood flow increases to them. These changes are preparing your breasts for feeding your baby.
Every woman's experience is different. Your breasts may grow quickly in early pregnancy, or they may grow gradually as your pregnancy progresses. You may not even notice much difference in the size of your breasts until the end of your pregnancy.
When it does happen, though, the change in size can be quite dramatic, particularly if this is your first pregnancy. You will probably go up a couple of cup sizes by the time you have your baby. Don’t worry if this hasn’t happened by the end of pregnancy. Your breasts are likely to expand more once your newborn has arrived.
You may notice other changes, too. During sex you may feel a throbbing or tingling sensation in your breasts, as the blood rushes to them.
Are sore breasts in pregnancy common?
Yes, it is common to have sore breasts in pregnancy. Sensitive, tender and tingling breasts are among the earliest signs that you’re pregnant.
Having sore breasts is one of the top three things women complain about in early pregnancy, along with nausea and tiredness.
The soreness is likely to lessen after your first trimester. Once you’re in your second trimester, your surging hormone levels will settle down.
This won’t necessarily spell the end of painful breasts altogether, though. Breast pain and tenderness still affects almost half of women in the third trimester.
What can I do to ease the soreness in my breasts?
A supportive bra with wide shoulder straps will help to ease the soreness. Underwired bras are less comfortable for your changing breasts, so choose softer bras.
Have your bra fitted by a specialist in-store fitter. If this isn’t possible, measure under your breasts for size, and around the fullest part of your breast for the cup. Bear in mind that sizes vary according to style and brand.
Try to get fitted more than once during your pregnancy. You may need to change cup sizes as your breasts grow.
Wear a well-fitting bra while you exercise, to support your heavy breasts.
A maternity cotton sleep bra may help to ease soreness while you sleep.
Some women find it helps to run warm water over their breasts to ease soreness. Gently pat your breasts dry afterwards.
Learn how to cope with these other common pregnancy complaints:
nausea and vomiting