Chest Pain During Pregnancy: Causes, Remedies and Expert Tips

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Pregnancy is a special time for every woman. However like all good things, this comes with a lot of extra precautions. Your body goes through immense physical and mental changes during pregnancy. You have to be extra cautious about what you eat, drink what physical activities you perform, your health and lifestyle and apply on your skin and body. If you are having frequent chest pains and worried about how it might affect the health of your baby, the good news is that chest pain is a common symptom during pregnancy.

All You Need to Know about Chest Pain During Pregnancy

chest pain during pregnancy

Is Chest Pain Normal During Pregnancy?

Yes, chest pain is normal during pregnancy, especially during your first and third trimester. Worry and stress, acid reflux and indigestion, and hormonal changes in your body can cause chest pain as a symptom. According to a scientific report by The Nottingham University Hospital, nearly 90 percent of women experience discomfort and pain in their chest during pregnancy.

What Causes Chest Pain During Pregnancy?

Heartburn

The hormone progesterone is released more than usual during pregnancy to relax the sphincter (the separation between the stomach and the esophagus). This can lead to indigestion and acid reflux, which causes chest pain during pregnancy.

Indigestion

Production of digestive enzymes is affected during pregnancy and there are increased chances of ineffective digestion and gas build up in the stomach. This can cause severe chest pain and it gets worse during the third trimester of your pregnancy.

Rib Cage Widening

To accommodate the physical form of the baby, the rib cage stretches out during pregnancy which creates tension in the chest muscles. As the baby grows, pressure is put on the diaphragm, which can lead to chest pain, especially during the third trimester.

Infection

Our immune system is weaker than usual during pregnancy. Chest infections can cause chest pains by restricting smooth functioning of the chest.

Stress

Pregnancy can be very emotionally and physically stressful. Coping with the stress of being a parent can induce chest pain during pregnancy.

Change in Breast Size

Estrogen and progesterone cause breasts to increase in size during pregnancy, which can lead to chest pain, back pain and discomfort.

These six causes are normal and do not require medical attention. However, the chest pain can also be due to

Deep Vein Thrombosis

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) refers to a blood clot in a deep vein. It commonly occurs in the leg or pelvis and requires medical attention, or it can cause pulmonary embolism.

Heart Attack

If you feel dizzy, breathless and numb in the limbs accompanied by cold sweat, you could be experiencing a heart attack.  In that case, rush to emergency care in the hospital.

Asthma

Pregnancy can worsen existing asthma conditions. It is best to seek medical help in this case.

Peripartum Cardiomyopathy

This heart condition weakens the heart muscles, and requires professional medical treatment. If left untreated, it can increase chances of miscarriage.

Aortic Dissection

In this cardiac condition, the wall of the aorta tears, leading to blood accumulation and aorta rupture. Pregnancy increases the chances of this ailment.

Congenital Heart Disease

Several complications during pregnancy can be caused by congenital heart diseases due to changes in the physiological condition and stress.

Hence, even though chest pain is a common symptom during pregnancy you should visit a doctor and perform any medical tests required to ascertain that the cause behind your chest pain is not fatal to the health of the new born baby.

How to Relieve Chest Pain During Pregnancy?

Medication is available to reduce chest pain during pregnancy. However, there are many restrictions and debates on which drugs are safe to consume. Pain killers are a strict no-no , but antacids and digestive enzyme inducing medicines can be consumed. If you are taking medication, only do so after consulting a doctor who is aware of your physical condition, pregnancy status and medical history. This may include adding vitamin, calcium or magnesium supplements in your diet. Here are some useful home remedies to relieve chest pain.

Simple lifestyle measures and tips to manage chest pain.

  • During pregnancy you should be careful about what you drink and eat.
  • Go to sleep and wake up on time. Maintaining a regular sleep pattern reduces stress and chest pain.
  • Drink lots of water at regular intervals. This will facilitate digestion and reduce chest pain during pregnancy.
  • Do not drink alcohol or smoke during pregnancy. Avoid caffeinated beverages and choose healthy alternatives like milk, fruit juices, or flavoured tea.
  • Eat food that is rich in magnesium, iron, calcium and vitamins in your daily diet. Hence your diet should be a balanced mix of green leafy vegetables, fibre, pulses, protein ( fish and meat and egg in controlled quantity) and enough nutrients.
  • Make sure that you sit and stand in positions which facilitate free flow of oxygen for breathing in your lungs. Using a small pillow or cushion to keep the upper body at a slightly higher plane can be helpful.
  • Avoid consumption of fried food rich in oil and spice. Consuming these foods make it difficult for digestion and can cause heartburns and chest pains.
  • Avoid having heavy meals thrice a day. Instead make your diet such that you have small meals at regular intervals throughout the day.
  • You can engage in light physical activity like walking, stretching, yoga and meditation as well.
  • With a regular sleep pattern, balanced diet and medical care, have a safe pregnancy.

References

https://www.nm.org/conditions-and-care-areas/cardiovascular-care/preventive-cardiology/heart-disease-and-pregnancy/cardiac-signs-and-symptoms-during-pregnancy

https://www.nuh.nhs.uk/download.cfm?doc=docm93jijm4n984.pdf&ver=2664

Hope this article was of help to you! Please share your comments/queries/tips with us and help us create a world full of Happy, Healthy and Empowered Women!!

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