Most women experience some form of breast pain at one time or another. Breast pain is typically easy to treat, but on rare occasions it can be a sign of something more serious.
With over 12 years of experience in postpartum breast health, Nadine Woods discusses the most common causes of breast pain, their treatments and when to see a doctor.
1. Hormones are making your breasts sore.
Hormonal fluctuations are the number one reason women have breast pain. Breasts become sore up to 10 days prior to the beginning of a menstrual period and stop hurting after it starts. A rise in estrogen and progesterone right before your period is the reason. These hormones cause your breasts to swell and can lead to tenderness.
Pregnancy and menopause can also cause breast pain. Breast tenderness is one of the earliest signs of pregnancy for many women.
Steps to minimize sore breasts:
Eat a low-fat diet
Reduce salt intake
Take an over-the-counter pain reliever
Ask your doctor if switching birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy medications may help
2. You have a breast injury.
Breasts can be injured just like any other part of your body. This can happen from things such as an accident, playing sports or breast surgery. There’s usually a sharp, shooting pain at the time of injury and tenderness can linger for a few days up to several weeks after trauma to the breast. See your doctor if the pain doesn’t improve or you notice any of these signs:
A lump in the breast
Redness and warmth, which could indicate an infection
A bruise on your breast that doesn’t go away
3. Your breasts hurt due to an unsupportive bra.
An ill-fitting bra will definitely cause breast pain. Without proper support, normal movements will aggravate breast tissues becoming overstretched and painful by the end of the day. The result is achy, sore breasts. This may be especially noticeable during exercise. Make sure your bra is the correct size and provides good support.
If you suffer from lack of support, the Alexander Bralette is the perfect innovative bra with patented features that adapt to your changing breast size. It reduces back pain, red shoulder marks, underwire pinching and under boob sweat.
Breastfeeding women are most likely to get breast infections (mastitis), but they occasionally occur in other women, too. If you have a breast infection, you may have a fever and symptoms in one breast, including:
If you think you may have a breast infection, it's important to get checked out by your doctor. An untreated infection can turn into an abscess that will need to be drained.
5. Breastfeeding is causing breast tenderness.
Breastfeeding can sometimes be the source of breast pain. Some of the things you can experience while nursing include:
Painful nipples from an improper latch (the way a baby latches on to suck)
Tingling sensation during letdown (when the milk starts to flow to the baby)
Nipple soreness due to being bitten or having dry, cracked skin or an infection
If you have pain while breastfeeding, it’s best to talk to your doctor or a lactation consultant. They can help you troubleshoot the problem while maintaining your milk supply.
Hear from one mother’s challenges and triumphs on her breastfeeding journey and life lessons on how to be empowered during yours.
There still is this stigma around breastfeeding. Maybe it’s because breasts have been over sexualized and people are not used to the idea that they are actually on our bodies for the purpose of supplying milk.
- Anquinette Hill on her view of breasts and breastfeeding