Pregnancy is one of the most critical time periods for the to-be mother. She is both overwhelmed and emotional. As the fetus grows, its impact is felt on every single organ of your body. The volume of blood in the body can increase by up to 50%. The mother’s heart needs to work overtime during pregnancy to circulate blood for both – the mother and the baby.
Initially, the heart simply responds to the blood and oxygen in your body but as your blood volume increases, it needs to work faster and harder. It even grows in size to help pump extra blood. Hence, it makes sense to take care of it.
It has been observed that the leading cause of death of pregnant women is cardiovascular disease, or simply, heart disease. According to the College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, about 26.5% of maternal deaths occur due to heart problems.
While some heart conditions can be dangerous in pregnancy, some conditions can also be acquired due to an unhealthy pregnancy. A preterm birth, that is a baby born before 37 weeks of pregnancy can cause future heart problems or in some cases can even lead to stroke.
A Strong Heart Pre-Pregnancy
Before you plan for a baby, visit your cardiologist to make sure you are not suffering from any heart conditions, such as heart valve disease or heart rhythm disorder. Blood pressure and diabetes also pose a risk and must be cured before conceiving.
While these pre-existing heart conditions can be a risk, the main cause of worry is the conditions that are acquired silently over time.
Doctors suggest that women should optimize their hearts prior to pregnancy. Exercises and aerobic activities are good for health as they even help in reducing body weight.
Palpitations are uneasy sensations due to irregular or forceful heartbeats. They are very common in pregnancy and not to be worried about if they are short-lived and are not happening regularly. Women may experience these palpitations because of anxiety, consumption of caffeine or drugs or some heart problems.
You must consult a doctor if along with palpitations you experience chest pain or difficulty in breathing. Unless they are due to some underlying heart conditions, they will cease on their own without any necessary treatment.
This is a rare heart condition that ultimately leads to heart failure. In this condition, the chambers in the heart enlarge abnormally causing a decrease in blood flow through the heart. This condition is usually seen in the last month of pregnancy, or even up to five months after giving birth.
It has been estimated that about 23% of maternal deaths in the postpartum period are due to this condition. Some of its symptoms are restlessness, short breaths, palpitations and swelling on ankles and neck.
Some Simple Ways To Ensure A Healthy Heart During Pregnancy
In pregnancy, regular exercise is very effective in reducing stress. It also helps to maintain a healthy weight. When you exercise, your heart rate increases which is beneficial to your body. It also lowers the risk of gestational diabetes in obese women, which is generally developed during pregnancy and disappears after giving birth. Exercise also regulates blood pressure.
If you are not used to intense workouts, then don’t experiment with it now. Start with low impact exercises such as walking. They have a pleasant impact on your mood and can keep your mind fresh. You can even take special exercise classes for pregnant women. However, for women with considerable heart or lung diseases or very high blood pressure, exercise is not recommended.
Pregnant women in Japan wear a badge on their bags or necklaces during their pregnancy. This helps them secure a seat on a bus or train if they are reluctant to talk about their condition or if she is in an early stage of pregnancy and it is not yet noticeable.
A Healthy Diet For Heart
Some food items that are considered healthy before conceiving, like sprouts or salads made with mayo, may not be good for you in pregnancy. Avoiding them or limiting their intake to dodge the negative impacts. Sodium tends to increase your blood pressure; hence, you also need to limit sodium in your diet.
While eating fish is good for the baby as it contains omega-3 fatty acids, too much fish can lead to mercury exposure. Avoid consuming fish rich in mercury such as swordfish, mackerel, and shark and go for low mercury fishes like catfish, cod, and salmon.
There is a myth in China due to which pregnant women there avoid cold food items like ice-cream and watermelon. Instead, they prefer hot drinks like tea and soup. They believe that pregnancy is of cold nature and so, taking in hot liquids will keep it balanced. It’s advisable to discover the crux behind these myths and then act accordingly.
Although, medications for pregnant ladies are a matter that should not be taken very lightly. So to all the pregnant ladies out there, here are some common medicines one can take after taking an opinion from their doctors. Some over-the-counter medicines that can be used for pregnancy are Aspirin (Ecosprin 150 mg), Acetaminophen for headache, Metamucil for constipation and many such medicines.
But please take your doctor’s word before you take any one of them. And technology has made things much easier for pregnant ladies. They can order medicines online by some reputed online pharmacies like PharmEasy.
Pregnancy is a very special time for every woman. Enjoy it to the fullest but remember your baby’s heart is beating along with your heart – so take twice as much care of yourself.
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