Chest Pain

Chest pain under 20 weeks

If you experience chest pain under 20 weeks pregnant it is unlikely to be related to your pregnancy, a few may be serious, and it is likely you will need to see a health professional.


Hormones and, later in pregnancy, your growing baby pressing on your stomach can sometimes cause bloating, burping, sickness sometimes with a nasty heart burning sensation behind the centre of your chest. This can be unpleasant and painful, however it does not cause any serious harm and is not something to worry about. 

Make a note of what sets it off and try to avoid these foods, especially in the evenings. Spicy foods, chocolate and fruit juice can often be the trigger.

Pulmonary Embolism (blood clot in your lung)

Pulmonary Embolism (PE) is rare, but pregnancy hormones do increase your risk (1 in 1000 pregnancies).  Your own personal risk of developing a clot is assessed by your midwife throughout your pregnancy and after birth. You can reduce your risk by drinking enough fluids, staying mobile, stopping smoking, having a healthy weight. Please tell us about any travel plans or family history of blood clots.

What we mean when we say “severe, moderate or mild pain’’:

Severe pain:

  • Always there and so bad it's hard to think or talk

  • You can't sleep

  • It's very hard to move, get out of bed, go to the bathroom, wash or dress

Moderate pain:

  • Always there

  • Makes it hard to concentrate or sleep

  • You can manage to get up, wash or dress

Mild pain:

  • Comes and goes

  • You can manage to sleep

  • Is annoying but doesn't stop you doing things like going to work or eating a meal

Call 999 if you have any of the following:

  • Sudden onset of severe chest pain

  • Pain radiating to arm, shoulder, back or jaw

Chest pain and any of the following

  • Coughing up blood

  • Breathlessness

  • Loss of consciousness

  • Any change to your thinking including confusion

  • Pre-existing heart disease

Contact your GP surgery today if you have any of the following:

  • Have pain when taking a deep breath in or coughing

  • If your mild/ moderate pain has not improved after taking Paracetamol.

  • Have a chesty cough (you may cough up green or brown mucous), a temperature over 38°C or feeling unwell 

  • Your chesty cough lasts longer that 14 days

  • Heartburn and indigestion

  • Chest pain that improves with regular paracetamol

Speak to your pharmacist about antacids and over the counter remedies. Contact your GP surgery (NHS 111 out of hours) if you are still worried.

Self Care

Pain relief

Paracetamol 2x 500mg tablets (1g) 4-6 hourly not exceeding 4g in 24hours. Do not take NSAIDS such as Ibuprofen whilst pregnant.

Things that may help when you have heartburn:

  • Eating smaller meals more frequently

  • Sitting up straight when you’re eating to take the pressure of your stomach

  • Finishing eating about three hours before bedtime

  • Drinking milk (reduced fat milk is preferable) when you get heartburn and keep a glass handy in the night

  • Propping yourself up with pillows in bed or tilting the bed so that the head is up slightly

  • Talking to your pharmacist about antacids and over the counter remedies suitable in pregnancy

  • Stopping smoking

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