Chest pain can be alarming, especially when it is during pregnancy. But you do not have to worry because chest pain during pregnancy is normal like any other physiological changes during this time. It could only become a cause of concern when associated with discomforting and prolonged symptoms. MomJunction tells you why you can get chest pain during pregnancy, and what you can do to get relief from it.
Is Chest Pain Normal During Pregnancy?
A feeling of fullness or discomfort in your chest is normal. However, you may have to see a doctor if there is numbness down your arm or persistent pain causing shortness of breath.
Causes Of Chest Pain During Pregnancy
Chest pain can be a result of some regular problems pregnant women face. It could also be due to something more severe. The likely causes of pain in the chest during pregnancy are:
Indigestion, acid reflux or eating fatty food can trigger heartburn, thereby causing sharp chest pain during pregnancy. Many pregnant women experience heartburn as the increased level of progesterone relaxes the sphincter that separates the stomach and esophagus (1).
When gas gets trapped in between your chest and tummy, you can have chest pain. The symptoms of indigestion tend to get worse at the beginning of the third trimester that is around the 27th week of pregnancy.
[ Read: Indigestion During Pregnancy ]
3. Rib cage widening:
During pregnancy, the rib cage widens, thereby, creating muscular tension in the chest. As the baby grows bigger and starts putting pressure on the diaphragm, ribs, and muscles, it could lead to right-sided chest pain and shortness of breath.
Chest infection is one of the principal causes of chest pain. It is essentially the disease of the airways.
Stress is all-pervasive today. When you feel stressful during pregnancy, chest pain could be one of the outcomes.
6. Change in breast size:
Your breasts enlarge during pregnancy. The breast changes strain the joints and muscles of the chest wall leading to chest pain and discomfort.
The causes mentioned above result in mild pain, and you need not hit the panic button. But here are a few serious causes of chest pain during pregnancy.
7. Deep vein thrombosis:
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) refers to a blood clot in a deeper vein, usually in the leg or pelvis. DVT is a severe medical condition that requires immediate attention.
The blood clot in the leg can travel up your body and reach the lungs. It can cause chest pain, pulmonary embolism or even death (2). You have a higher risk if you are smoking, older than 35 years, have a heart or lung illness, obese or carrying more than one fetus.
8. Heart attack:
When you experience left-sided chest pain during pregnancy, the first thing that may come to your mind is a heart attack. And there is a good reason for that as chest pain is one of the most common symptoms of heart attack. Other symptoms include light-headedness, breathlessness, numbness in the limbs, and cold sweat. If you are experiencing these symptoms, don’t wait, just head to the ER.
You are at a higher risk if you are a smoker, diabetic or older than 40.
[ Read: Exercises You Can Do During Pregnancy ]
If you are already having mild asthma or experienced it in the past, the condition could recur or worsen during pregnancy. There will be tightness in the chest due to asthma, resulting in chest pain (3).
10. Peripartum cardiomyopathy:
This is a cardiac condition where the heart muscle turns weak and diseased (4). Chest pain is one of its symptoms. The rare condition can come up right after delivery or a month before delivery and remain up to five months.
11. Aortic dissection:
It is a tear which occurs in the wall of the aorta, the largest artery. Blood accumulates in between the layers of the aorta, eventually leading to aortic rupture. It could result in chest pain, among others. Pregnancy increases the risk of this condition (5).
12. Congenital heart disease:
Congenital heart ailments could lead to several complications during pregnancy due to physiological changes and stress on the cardiovascular system (6). One among them is chest pain. You should, therefore, be cautious and never ignore the chest pain due to heart disease.
If you have severe chest pain during pregnancy along with the following symptoms, you most likely have a chest infection:
- Persistent cough
- Yellow or bloody sputum
- Rapid heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
How To Relieve Chest Pain During Pregnancy?
In case your chest pain comes with shortness of breath, dizziness and weakness, you need to see a doctor. However, if the pain is benign, so you can try some lifestyle changes and home remedies.
Simple lifestyle measures to manage chest pain:
Try the following easy methods to get relief from chest pain, unless your doctor detects a severe underlying cause:
- Watch your posture: Make sure you are giving your lungs enough space! Don’t slouch. Sit and stand straight to allow enough oxygen to enter your lungs.
- Take it easy: Don’t overtire yourself. Rest as much as you can.
- Use a cushion: Prop yourself up a little with a pillow while lying down on your bed. It will help you breathe freely.
- Don’t sleep soon after a meal: No matter how tired you are, try not to lie down immediately after a meal.
- Eat small portions: During pregnancy, it makes sense to eat smaller meals at regular intervals to prevent acidity, heartburn, GERD, etc.
- Prenatal supplements are vital: Don’t forget to take your prenatal vitamins regularly.
- Say no to stress: When you are pregnant, the stress levels can skyrocket! So, bust stress through meditation and yoga.
- Avoid things that cause bloating: Stay away from alcohol, caffeine, oily and spicy foods, all of which can cause gas and indigestion.
- Eat healthily: Eat healthy and balanced meals, which give you enough vitamins and minerals.
- Exercise: Regular exercise can keep you healthy and guard against infectious attacks.
- Quit smoking: Give up smoking as it affects not only you but also the fetus.
- Say no to caffeinated drinks: Reduce intake of caffeinated drinks as they dehydrate you.
- Keep clean: Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water to reduce the risk of viral or bacterial infection. When you go out, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
These are simple ways to avoid mild chest pain during pregnancy. Add home remedies to it to further relieve your pain.
Home remedies for relief from chest pain
Heartburn and indigestion are the primary causes of chest pain and discomfort. Beat them with these home remedies:
- Ginger and chamomile tea once or twice a day.
- Slippery elm tea three times a day.
- A glass of warm milk with honey.
- A handful of almonds aids digestion.
- A cup of tender coconut water is an effective acid neutralizer.
- Add two teaspoons caraway seeds in some boiling water and allow it to steep for 10 minutes. Drink the strained liquid, and you may use sweeteners.
- Mix a small amount of apple cider vinegar in water and consume to relieve acid reflux symptoms.
If none of the lifestyle measures and home treatments work in reducing your chest pain, you should check with your doctor.
[ Read: How To Cure Heartburn During Pregnancy ]
Tips For Expecting Mothers
- Do not self-medicate because whatever you ingest goes to your baby as well.
- In the case of pneumonia or bronchitis, do not hesitate to visit a doctor even if you are following home remedies.
If your chest pain is due to any serious illness or complications, you might require medical treatment. Your doctor will diagnose the condition and suggest a treatment accordingly.
Have you experienced chest pain during pregnancy? What did you do to get relief? Share us your story in the below comment section.