Preventing Heart Complications During Pregnancy
If you have a heart condition, the joys of being pregnant can be masked somewhat by the fears you may have regarding your health, and the health of your baby.
So, what can you do to make sure everything goes smoothly?
Your doctor or midwife will be closely monitoring your health and the health of your baby throughout the pregnancy. But, to prevent complications here are a few tips:
1. Keep your prenatal appointments – visit your doctor or midwife on your scheduled appointments, and try not to miss any.
2. Take your medication as prescribed – if you’ve been told to take medication, it’s important that you do so, and also that your follow the instructions in terms of timing and dosage etc.
3. Get lots of rest – try to get into the habit of taking a nap in the middle of the day, or in the early evening when you get home from work, and don’t exert yourself too much.
4. Keep a close eye on your weight – try not to gain too much weight during pregnancy, since this puts additional stress on your heart. You should work with your health care team to determine what's right for you, but here are a few general guidelines for pregnancy weight gain:
Pre-pregnancy weight Recommended weight gain
Underweight (BMI less than 18.5) 28 to 40 pounds
Normal weight (BMI 18.5 to 24.9) 25 to 35 pounds
Overweight (BMI 25 to 29.9) 15 to 25 pounds
Obese (BMI 30 or over) 11 to 20 pounds
5. Stay cool – remember if it gets too hot, or the weather is really humid, your blood vessels may become dilated, and this can increase the demands placed on your heart, so try to stay cool where possible.
6. Reduce anxiety – try to keep your stress levels to a minimum by discussing any issues you are having with your doctor, midwife and also your partner or friend, as this will help you to deal with things better.
The American Heart Association states that “current data don't yet support specific recommendations about stress reduction as a proven therapy for cardiovascular disease,” however keeping your stress levels to a minimum won’t do you, or your baby any harm.
If you notice any of the following signs or symptoms you should get in contact with your doctor or midwife immediately:
- Difficulty breathing
- Heart palpitations, rapid heart rate or irregular pulse
- Chest pain
- Increased swelling
- Rapid weight gain
- Unusual fatigue or weakness
Pregnancy is a wonderful time in a women’s life, just make sure to look after yourself so that you can enjoy the whole experience!