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What are the Most Common Causes of Chest Pain During Pregnancy?

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

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.

Chest pain during pregnancy is usually a result of indigestion, but should be monitored by a medical professional.
Chest pain during pregnancy is usually a result of indigestion, but should be monitored by a medical professional.

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.

Pregnant women who experience chest pain should see their physician to rule out any underlying health problems.
Pregnant women who experience chest pain should see their physician to rule out any underlying health problems.

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.

Most chest pain during pregnancy is innocent and not the cause of a more serious health condition.
Most chest pain during pregnancy is innocent and not the cause of a more serious health condition.

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.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a WiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

Learn more...
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a WiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

Learn more...

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Discussion Comments

donasmrs

@SarahGen-- When I found out I was pregnant, I was extremely stressed about giving birth and raising a child. I was depressed and would get headaches, nausea, anxiety and chest pain. Try to relax.

candyquilt

@SarahGen-- Do you have high blood pressure?

Pre-eclampsia is constant high blood pressure during pregnancy. It is dangerous and has to be kept under control. I had pre-eclampsia during my pregnancy but I never had chest pain. I did have headache and edema though.

Everyone is different though, so there is a possibility that high blood pressure is causing chest pain. A blood pressure measuring should clarify this for you.

If you don't have high blood pressure, it might just be pregnancy heartburn. When the stomach has too much acid, the acid moves up and irritates the esophagus which can feel like chest pain. I had this at one point too!

SarahGen

Is chest pain during pregnancy a symptom of pre-eclampsia?

I'm three months pregnant and I have been having chest pain for the past several days. A friend of mine had pre-eclapsia during her pregnancy and had to be under strict doctor control and rest throughout the nine months. I'm scared that I might have it too.

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    • Chest pain during pregnancy is usually a result of indigestion, but should be monitored by a medical professional.
      By: photo 5000
      Chest pain during pregnancy is usually a result of indigestion, but should be monitored by a medical professional.
    • Pregnant women who experience chest pain should see their physician to rule out any underlying health problems.
      By: Milissenta
      Pregnant women who experience chest pain should see their physician to rule out any underlying health problems.
    • Most chest pain during pregnancy is innocent and not the cause of a more serious health condition.
      By: 9nong
      Most chest pain during pregnancy is innocent and not the cause of a more serious health condition.
    • A woman's swollen breasts may cause chest pain during pregnancy.
      By: Arto
      A woman's swollen breasts may cause chest pain during pregnancy.
    • Indigestion is a common cause of chest pain during pregnancy.
      By: Ermolaev Alexandr
      Indigestion is a common cause of chest pain during pregnancy.
    • Back pain may accompany chest pain during pregnancy.
      By: Paul Hakimata
      Back pain may accompany chest pain during pregnancy.
    • Anemia during pregnancy may be severe, causing fatigues and shortness of breath.
      By: fmarsicano
      Anemia during pregnancy may be severe, causing fatigues and shortness of breath.
    • A pregnant woman may experience pressure on her diaphragm as the baby grows, leading to chest pain.
      By: snapgalleria
      A pregnant woman may experience pressure on her diaphragm as the baby grows, leading to chest pain.