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There are many things that may cause chest pain during pregnancy, among the most common of which are indigestion, heartburn, increases in breast size, and anemia. Some women may also have pain because they are dealing with increased levels of stress, have a widened rib cage, or are feeling pressure caused by the growing baby. Less commonly, chest pain could be a sign of a heart attack. For this reason, a pregnant woman may be advised to have any unexplained chest pain evaluated by a medical professional.
Indigestion and heartburn are frequent complaints among pregnant women. As an unborn child grows and develops, a woman’s abdomen gradually becomes more crowded, squeezing the stomach and causing pain. Indigestion is basically stomach upset and may be accompanied by not only a burning sensation in the chest and stomach, but also nausea and vomiting, pain in the abdominal area, bloating, belching, and gas. Heartburn occurs when stomach acids back up into a person's esophagus and cause a burning pain in the chest.
Sometimes, an underlying condition is the cause of chest pain during pregnancy. Anemia, which is marked by too few red blood cells, may cause chest pain if it is severe during pregnancy. It may also cause fatigue, fainting, and shortness of breath. In some cases, asthma, for which pain and pressure in the chest can be a symptom, may get worse during pregnancy.
In some cases, changes related to the developing baby may cause chest pain. As the unborn baby grows, a woman may experience increased pressure on both her diaphragm and her ribs. Her rib cage may widen as well, which may strain the muscles in the area and contribute to pain. She may also experience back pain related to pregnancy that causes her to feel pain in her chest. A woman’s breasts grow in preparation for nurturing her baby, and their increased weight may cause pain as well.
Mental stress can sometimes cause physical symptoms as well. During pregnancy, stress may lead to tension in the muscles of the chest, which may cause a woman to feel discomfort or outright pain during pregnancy.
Often, chest pain during pregnancy is innocent and isn’t caused by a serious medical condition. It is possible, however, for it to be a symptom of something serious and life threatening, such as a heart attack. As a result, it's a good idea for any woman experiencing unexplained pain to see a medical professional promptly.