Chest Pain While Pregnant – Reasons & Treatment

Chest Pain During Pregnancy – Causes & Remedies

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Sabiha Anjum (Gynecologist/Obstetrician)
View more Gynecologist/Obstetrician Our Panel of Experts

The 9-month journey of pregnancy is undoubtedly the most beautiful experience for a woman. During pregnancy, the body also undergoes continuous changes that result in discomfort, body pain and dizziness. One of the most common problems faced by pregnant women is chest pain. Keep reading to understand the causes of chest pain during pregnancy and the remedies that can help to relieve the pain.

Is It Normal to Experience Chest Pain During Pregnancy?

Experiencing chest pain during pregnancy is not uncommon. Chest pain during early pregnancy is a reflection of the rapid changes taking place in the body. Lifestyle changes, in addition to the bodily changes, may also cause pain in the chest while you’re expecting.

Causes of Chest Pain During Pregnancy

You may experience chest pain due to any of the following reasons:

1. Indigestion

The most common cause of chest pain is indigestion. Indigestion causes oesophagal damage by direct damage or oesophagal reflux, leading to oesophagal spasm and, in turn, chest pain.

2. Heartburn

Heartburn during pregnancy happens due to the progesterone hormone. This hormone allows the oesophagal sphincter to relax and the stomach acids to rise, resulting in severe heartburn and chest pain.

3. Muscular Stress

The growing baby (and the abdomen and the rib cage), put a lot of stress on the muscles and ligaments in the chest area, causing pain.

4. Mental Stress

Besides muscle tension, emotional stress is one of the factors responsible for this condition.

5. Changing Size of the Breasts

As the breasts change in size and shape, they put a strain on the muscles and joints of the chest wall. This leads to pain and shortness of breath.

6. Asthma/Breathing Problems

Asthma leads to shortness of breath and chest pain while you’re pregnant.

7. Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

DVT refers to the formation of blood clot in a vein or an artery and usually happens in leg or pelvis. The blood clot tends to travel up your body into lungs resulting in pulmonary embolism, which is a life-threatening condition and can cause severe chest pain in pregnant women and, at times, result in death. Smokers, women above the age of 35, obese women or women with a heart or lung disease history, are at greater risk.

8. Congenital Heart Disease

If you experience left chest pain during pregnancy or severe discomfort, it might be a symptom of a heart attack. The other symptoms include numbing of limbs, cold sweat on the skin and light-headedness. If you face experience these symptoms, consult your doctor.

9. Coronary Heart Disease

The build-up of plaque (fat deposition) in the arteries restricts the flow of blood to the heart and results in chest pain. This also puts you at the risk of a heart attack.

10. Aortic Dissection

As a result of the tear in the wall of the aorta, the accumulation of blood in between the layers of aorta could lead to aortic disruption causing severe chest pain during pregnancy. Pregnancy increases the risk of this condition.

11. Peripartum Cardiomyopathy

This health condition is characterised by weak and diseased heart muscles. One of its symptoms is chest pain. It begins during the final month of pregnancy and may go on until up to five months after delivery.

12. Gallstones

If you’ve been experiencing pain in the chest and upper right abdomen of late, it may be due to gallstones. The increased production of the hormone estrogen during pregnancy makes pregnant women susceptible to this condition.

Treatment of Chest Pain During Pregnancy

A pregnant woman experiencing chest pain

Now that you know the primary reasons for chest pain during pregnancy, here are a few tips to relieve it:

  • Maintain the right posture while sitting or standing so that there is a free flow of oxygen to the lungs.
  • Use a cushion while lying down to keep the chest higher than the lower part of the body.
  • Consume a diet that is rich in magnesium, calcium, vitamins and iron.
  • Avoid greasy or spicy foods, and restrict the intake of alcohol and caffeine.
  • Eat small meals at short intervals, and avoid lying down immediately after a meal.
  • Sleep on your left side to prevent the uterus to prevent putting pressure on the blood vessels and chest.
  • Practise meditation and yoga to relieve stress.

Home Remedies for Relief from Chest Pain

While OTC medication is always available, it’s always better to try home remedies to be on the safer side. Here are a few:

  • Consume a spoonful of honey along with a glass of warm milk every day.
  • Drink chamomile or ginger tea.
  • Eating almonds helps to improve digestion.
  • Drink coconut water regularly for its natural acid neutralising properties.

When To Seek Help

It is important to know when you should seek help. If you notice these red flags, seek medical help as soon as possible.

  • Severe chest pain while lying down at night
  • A stabbing, unbearable pain on the left side of the heart
  • Chest pain along with numbness in the arms, dizziness, shortness of breath, cold sweating, continuous vomiting and difficulty in breathing
  • Pain in the chest while breathing deeply, sneezing or coughing
  • A severe burning sensation in the upper chest which becomes intense while bending over
  • Swelling in one or both legs accompanied by a sharp pain in the chest,also sudden pain in the legs especially calves.
  • Sharp pain in the middle part of the chest that lasts a few minutes every time and then settles. This might also be an indication of a heart attack

While prevention is any day better than cure, it’s better to refer to a qualified health professional for health problems during pregnancy. Irrespective of the severity of the chest pain, it is always advisable to consult a doctor.

Also Read: Stomach Pain during Pregnancy

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