Chest Pain During Pregnancy – Causes & Remedies
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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 pregnancy chest pain and the remedies that can help to relieve the pain. Also, learn about treatments and some home remedies you can try. If you still feel uncomfortable or still experience pain, you must consult your doctor immediately. Let’s read!
Is It Normal to Experience Chest Pain During Pregnancy?
Chest pain is sign of pregnancy and experiencing chest pain while pregnant 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:
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.
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
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.
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.
Symptoms of Chest Pain During Pregnancy
Following are the symptoms of chest pain during pregnancy’s first, second and third trimester.
- Intense pain upon coughing
- Blurred vision
Treatment of Chest Pain During Pregnancy
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.
- Avoiding spicy foods as they may irritate your stomach and throat.
- Steer clear of consuming foods that cause gas, such as processed and sugary items.
- Refrain from consuming foods that could exacerbate heartburn. Common culprits include tomatoes, dairy products, chocolate, mint, and citrus fruits.
- Apply a cold compress to alleviate swelling and muscle discomfort.
- Get some sleep or recline using a body pillow to support the additional weight.
- Consume multiple smaller meals to alleviate feelings of nausea and vomiting.
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
1. How Common Are Cardiovascular Diseases During Pregnancy?
Cardiovascular diseases during pregnancy are relatively rare, affecting about 1-4% of pregnancies. However, certain conditions like high blood pressure and gestational diabetes can increase the risk. Regular prenatal care and monitoring can help manage these risks and ensure a healthier pregnancy.
2. Does Chest Pain Get Normal at the End of Pregnancy?
During the third trimester or the final three months of pregnancy, it’s possible to encounter discomfort or stabbing pain in the chest while pregnant. This could be attributed to breast enlargement or the expansion of the rib cage. These changes are generally deemed normal during the latter part of pregnancy.
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.
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3. Pregnancy Heartburn? 7 Ways to Get Relief; intermountainhealthcare.org; https://intermountainhealthcare.org/blogs/pregnancy-heartburn-7-ways-to-get-relief
4. Heart conditions and pregnancy: Know the risks; mayoclinic.org; https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/pregnancy/art-20045977
5. Warning signs of postpartum health problems; marchofdimes.org; https://www.marchofdimes.org/find-support/topics/postpartum/warning-signs-postpartum-health-problems