There are a lot of strange pregnancy symptoms. Many of which existed only in my mind. For instance, I was positive that I smelled different when I was pregnant and I didn't think my deodorant worked as well. Another strange occurrence I've heard about is itchy nipples. There are plenty of message board posts and reddit threads revolving around the tips of your nips, and if they should itch when you're expecting. But are itchy nipples an early sign of pregnancy?
Like almost all of the difficult, peculiar, and somewhat unexpected embarrassments of pregnancy, itchy nipples is a real thing and is caused by hormones, according to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Those hormones begin the process of getting your breasts ready to produce milk and your nipples ready to deploy your newborn's beverage of choice from the word go. This means that with all the blood flow, stretching, and cellular shifts happening in your breasts, your nipples, the sensitive peaks of the structures, will likely begin to itch.
Because running out of the office three times an hour to throw up isn't embarrassing enough. Nope, you need to also figure out how to discreetly scratch the crap out of your nipples when no one is watching.
My nipples were the bane of my existence during my pregnancy. They constantly itched, and then when I scratched them as I was wont to do, they burned. The only thing more fun than itchy nipples is burning nipples, ask anyone. And there isn't a ton you can do about it. According to New Kids Center, your options are limited. You can't just use a steroidal cream like you could normally for an itchy patch of skin. You don't want to ice them, because, ouch, and meds? Those are straight out.
According to ACOG and New Kids Center, the best strategies for keeping the nipple itching to a minimum is a multi-pronged approach. First, you want to make sure you're well hydrated. The drier your nipples are, the more they will itch. Aim to drink as much as it takes to quench your thirst, and then drink a bit more. Sure, you'll have to pee a lot, but you'll likely be in there to throw up anyway, so you can kill two birds with one bathroom break. I found that it helped to have a liter water bottle on me at all times. I knew I needed to down two of those so I could get the full benefit.
While itchy nipples are a sign of pregnancy, they're also a sign of a bad moisturizer. Make sure the one you use is thick and has lasting power. A rich cocoa butter from the Body Shop seemed to help my tingling tatas. However, if it had any fragrance that wasn't just the natural scent of the cocoa butter? My nipples would rage like tiny rabid beasts attached to my boobs by stitches made of fire. It was really pleasant.
New Kids Center also suggested making sure your bra fits really well and is very supportive. If your nipples have a hard time making an appearance, it's hard for them to work up the effort to itch, or at least it seems that way. The counter pressure helps ease the discomfort, and relieves the need to tear at them like they've wronged you personally.
One more thing you might not consider is how you do your laundry and the soap you use. I mean, ostensibly, you've been using these products for a very long time, so why would they bother you now? Turns out those hormones screw with you, and what may not have irritated you before can irritate the crap out of you now.
Remember, this ball starts rolling the moment you get pregnant, so if your nipples are itching, let them point you toward a pregnancy test or to the lotion aisle, because you may need it.
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