Chest pain is one of those alarming symptoms that everyone associates with a failing heart. Sharp, shooting pain in the chest often redirects our mind into thinking that something is seriously wrong with our heart function.
Now, imagine experiencing the same degree of pain but during your pregnancy. Things become ten-fold scarier, right? Experiencing chest pain during pregnancy is fairly common. And, spoiler alert, it doesn’t have to do with your cardiovascular functions.
This article will explore everything related to chest pain and discomfort during pregnancy, the potential causes, and what you can do to treat it.
In this Article
- 1 Why do I have Chest Pain during Pregnancy?
- 2 When should I see a Doctor for Chest Pain during Pregnancy?
Why do I have Chest Pain during Pregnancy?
As you finally accept your fate of sleepless nights, discomfort, back pain, and swollen ankles, you are hit with another pregnancy symptom – Chest pain.
All of this sounds tiring and quite taxing on the physical health of the expecting mother. But there are potential reasons behind these consequences. So, let us familiarize you with those first.
1. Heartburn and Indigestion
The most common reason for chest pain during your pregnancy is heartburn. It’s when your stomach’s acid leaks from the stomach and travels up into the throat. Since our stomach acid is very powerful, the regurgitation of the acid leads to heartburn and chest pain.
Besides chest pain, heartburn also causes a burning sensation inside the throat. Foods like citrus fruits, chocolates, oily foods, etc. often relax the valve that prevents the stomach acid from escaping.
If you are consuming these trigger foods during pregnancy, they can lead to complaints of heartburn, indigestion, and chest pain.
2. Expanding breast size
As you progress into your pregnancy, your body undergoes a lot of physiological changes. A shift in the body’s hormonal balance, especially involving estrogen and progesterone, leads to a sudden growth spurt of your breasts.
It’s normal and happens as your body prepares itself to breastfeed your body once they join you earthside.
But, this sudden growth in the breast size is also accompanied by other symptoms like breast pain and tenderness, sore nipples, and sharp, shooting pain around the chest. Symptoms like these often start in the first trimester and can last throughout the pregnancy.
3. Morning sickness
You might be confused about how morning sickness leads to chest pain, right? Well, as you vomit, it can involve acid reflux, which can further lead to heartburn and a burning sensation in the throat.
Not just that, many pregnant women often convulse when they vomit, which impact the chest and the rib cage area, leading to prolonged and sustained pain in those areas. It’s mainly due to stiffness and weakness in the muscles around the stomach and chest.
4. Pulmonary complications
If you already suffer from lung conditions or breathing ailments like asthma, the symptoms can progressively get worse during pregnancy.
You might also experience tightness in the chest, which often translates as a sharp, shooting pain.
Besides that, any kind of active chest or lung infection during pregnancy might also lead to chest pain. If the pain is accompanied by coughing and wheezing, it is better to consult your OBGYN about it.
5. Severe heart conditions
Although we mentioned that chest pain in pregnancy isn’t always a sign of heart problems, it could be in some cases.
Heart-related chest pain happens later during the pregnancy and could be an early sign of myocardial infarction or peripartum cardiomyopathy. It isn’t set in stone and isn’t always the case for every pregnant woman. However, if you witness symptoms beyond the realm of simple chest pain, it is better to get it checked out.
Surprisingly enough, chest pain during pregnancy isn’t always due to physiological triggers. Sometimes, emotional or mental triggers like anxiety can also trigger the feeling of tightness and pain in the chest.
This is very common during the earlier stages of pregnancy when you are getting used to this big change that’s graced your life. Adjusting to this change can invoke a plethora of unsettling emotions that can trigger anxiety attacks, leading to chest pain and discomfort.
When should I see a Doctor for Chest Pain during Pregnancy?
In most cases, chest pain during pregnancy isn’t a concern. It isn’t something you need to be worried about. Needless to say, the symptoms are often temporary and short-lived.
That said, chest pain during pregnancy could also be an early sign of something else, including heart complications.
You need immediate medical intervention if:
- The chest pain doesn’t subside and gets worse with time
- You experience breathlessness, paired with nausea
- You experience heart palpitations and an increased heart rate
- You experience headache, blurry vision, and dizziness
- Your urine is very dark in color
- You have excessive swelling in the foot and ankles
- Your face is swelling up all of a sudden
- You are experiencing pain in the calf muscles
Sometimes, alarming symptoms paired with chest pain could be a trigger for blood clots, heart conditions, or other pregnancy complications. Never take any of these severe symptoms for granted.
How to Treat Chest Pain during Pregnancy?
Experiencing chest pain in early pregnancy is normal and something every pregnant woman has experienced once in their lifetime. It’s not a matter of concern.
However, when it comes to medical treatment for your chest pain during pregnancy, it typically starts with an evaluation. Your OBGYN will discuss your symptoms, assess what’s the potential reason and then advise you on relevant treatment.
If it’s due to heartburn, your doctor will advise you to make changes to your diet and eating habits. If it’s due to morning sickness, your doctor might suggest increasing your fluid intake and staying away from nausea triggers.
In more cases, the symptoms of chest pain subside by itself and over time. It’s not something you have to worry about until the pain worsens or a series of other unpleasant symptoms accompany it.
Also, if the pain is due to potential blood clots, your doctor might suggest you wear compression socks to prevent further risks.
Any kinds of blood pressure complications will be medicated and monitored by your doctor to prevent risks of preeclampsia during the pregnancy.
Is my chest pain due to a heart attack during pregnancy?
Experiencing heart attacks during pregnancy isn’t uncommon. Reports suggest that around 26.5% of death during pregnancy and post-partum is due to cardiovascular complications. So, yes, your chest pain could be an early sign of a heart attack.
What are some home remedies to treat chest pain at home?
Home remedies like meditation, counseling, proper diet, an active lifestyle, etc., can help keep you in your best health throughout the pregnancy.
Should I see a doctor about chest pain during pregnancy?
If the chest pain and discomfort get progressively worse, it’s ideal to see your OBGYN to find what’s wrong before things take a turn for the worse.
Chest pain is one of the most common and harmless symptoms you’ll experience during pregnancy. However, severe symptoms might indicate something worse, requiring immediate medical attention. If you are experiencing symptoms that are persistent and ones that are getting worse with time, it’s better to consult your healthcare provider for a comprehensive understanding of what’s wrong before things take a turn for the worse.