Why You Might Be Having Chest Pain During Pregnancy (and What to Do)

Causes of Chest Pain During Pregnancy (and How to Treat It)

What’s causing your chest pain during pregnancy can depend on when it occurs.

Chest pain in early pregnancy is often related to heartburn. That’s because the stomach has a harder time emptying its contents into the intestines, leaving acid in the stomach for longer periods of time. To treat heartburn, Ross recommends taking antacids, such as Tums, and avoiding heartburn culprits, such spicy foods and citrus.

Pregnancy Week By Week

Chest pain in middle or late pregnancy usually happens because of the changes associated with pregnancy. “A growing baby makes the uterus put additional pressure on the intestines, lungs and stomach, which then pushes up and into the chest cavity,” Ross says. Pain under the liver and stomach area can also radiate into the chest, causing intermittent pain. This pain is typically accompanied with having a smaller appetite (because of the pressure on your stomach) and a shortness of breath (because of pressure on the lungs).

In addition, chest pain in pregnancy can occur as the muscles between the ribs stretch and expand to accommodate the growing uterus and chest cavity. This type of pain can feel more muscular and spread throughout the chest area.

Whether your discomfort is being caused by your growing baby or expanding muscles, in each of these cases, the chest pain will subside on its own as the uterus grows and baby starts shifting positions. In the meantime, a heating pad and scaling back on physical activity can ease the aches.

You might also feel some chest discomfort in pregnancy when lying on your back. In this case, you may experience a shortness of breath, sweating and lightheadedness. The reason? Your uterus is compressing the vena cava and aorta, says G. Thomas Ruiz, MD, ob-gyn lead at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California. For relief, sleep on your left side.

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