Protecting Your Heart During Pregnancy

When you are pregnant, your body, including your heart, goes through tremendous changes every day. During pregnancy, the amount of blood in your body goes up 30 to 50 percent to help nourish your growing child. This increased blood volume means your heart pumps 30 to 50 percent more blood every minute, which may lead to a decrease in blood pressure and increase in heart rate.

Most changes in your heart are normal, showing up as swollen ankles, increased urination and fatigue. If your blood pressure increases during pregnancy, however, you should work with your physician to lower it. High blood pressure can cause serious complications, such as premature delivery.

Follow the advice below before, during and after pregnancy to live a heart healthy life.

Eat and drink well. By eating a nutritious diet, you can help your heart stay strong. Avoid too much salt, which can affect your bladder and increase blood pressure. Caffeine can cause irregular heartbeats, so its best to have no more caffeine than what is contained in a 12 ounce cup of coffee each day.

Exercise frequently. Start exercising before you conceive and continue at the same intensity level during pregnancy. Cardiovascular exercise can help your heart stay strong, and some studies suggest it can even help strengthen your baby’s heart.

Manage your medications. If you already suffer from heart disease, you will need to talk to your doctor about changing your medications during pregnancy and any risks you may face during pregnancy.

If you have any questions or concerns about your health during pregnancy, talk to your obstetrician. Because they know your medical history, they can give you the best advice on having a healthy pregnancy.

By Emily Thomson, DO

About Dr. Thomson – Emily Thomson, DO, completed her bachelor of science at the University of California, Los Angeles and received her medical degree from Western University of Health Sciences, College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific. She went on to perform her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Summa Akron City Hospital. Dr. Thomson’s special interests include providing compassionate care for women during pregnancy as well as gynecologic care utilizing minimally invasive procedures with the da Vinci® robotic surgical system. Dr. Thomson has participated in several research studies and given numerous medical presentations. She is professionally affiliated with The American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology, American Medical Association and American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists.

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