Summary: Sternum pain during pregnancy can be a common occurrence and is often caused by the growth and expansion of breasts, posture changes, or hormonal changes. However, it can also be an indication of more serious conditions such as preeclampsia or peripartum cardiomyopathy. It is essential to pay close attention to any sternum pain and seek medical attention if needed.
1. Causes of sternum pain during pregnancy
The most common cause of sternum pain during pregnancy is the growth and expansion of the breasts. As the breasts enlarge and become heavier, they can pull on the muscles and ligaments in the chest and cause pain. Poor posture is another major contributing factor to sternum pain. Pregnancy-related postural changes may cause the shoulders to round forward, leading to a tightness in the chest, neck, and shoulders.
Hormonal changes associated with pregnancy can also play a role in sternum pain. During pregnancy, the body begins to produce relaxin, a hormone that helps to soften and prepare the cervix for delivery. However, it can also affect other parts of the body, such as causing the smooth muscles to relax, including those within the sternum.
In some cases, sternum pain may indicate a more severe condition, such as preeclampsia, which is characterized by high blood pressure and protein in the urine, or peripartum cardiomyopathy, which is a rare form of heart disease that can occur during pregnancy or shortly after delivery.
2. Tips for managing sternum pain
Fortunately, there are several things that pregnant women can do to alleviate sternum pain. Using a supportive bra can go a long way in helping reduce the stress on the chest muscles. Avoiding activities that require excessive use of the chest muscles, such as lifting heavy objects or doing strenuous exercise, can also help. Practicing good posture can relieve any added pressure on the sternum and neck muscles.
Exercising regularly is also important in managing sternum pain. Gentle exercises such as walking or prenatal yoga can help alleviate tension in the chest, neck, and shoulders. Women should also incorporate stretching and relaxation techniques into their routine to reduce emotional stress and ward off physical tension.
If the pain persists or becomes more severe, a heating pad or cold compress applied to the chest, neck or back may provide some relief. Massages and prenatal chiropractic care, particularly upper thoracic mobilization and soft-tissue therapy, can also be helpful in addressing musculoskeletal issues that contribute to sternum pain.
3. When to seek medical attention
While most sternum pain during pregnancy is often not cause for alarm, women should always pay close attention to the severity of the pain and any accompanying symptoms. If the pain is severe, spreads to the jaw, back, or arm, is accompanied by shortness of breath, dizziness, or sweating, or if there is a sudden increase in swelling, it is essential to seek medical attention immediately. These symptoms could indicate a more severe issue such as preeclampsia or peripartum cardiomyopathy.
Any sudden onset of chest pain or discomfort should never be ignored, and women should seek medical attention right away. An early diagnosis and treatment can help ensure the health of both mother and baby.
4. Can sternum pain during pregnancy affect the baby?
While sternum pain during pregnancy typically does not affect the baby, untreated severe conditions such as preeclampsia or peripartum cardiomyopathy can have a significant impact on both mother and baby. These conditions can cause poor fetal growth, premature delivery, or even stillbirth. Therefore, it is crucial to seek medical attention immediately if symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, or swelling occur.
By taking measures to manage and alleviate sternum pain during pregnancy, women can minimize the chances of developing more severe complications and ensure the health and well-being of both themselves and their babies.
Sternum pain during pregnancy is common and often attributed to hormonal changes, posture changes, or breast enlargement. However, it can also be an indication of more serious conditions such as preeclampsia or peripartum cardiomyopathy. Women should always pay attention to the severity of the pain and seek medical attention if needed. By taking measures such as practicing good posture, using supportive bras, and exercising regularly, women can alleviate discomfort and minimize the chances of developing more severe complications.
It is essential to remember that any sudden onset of chest pain or discomfort should never be ignored, and women should seek immediate medical attention. Early diagnosis and treatment can help ensure the health of both mother and baby.