The experience of pregnancy and childbirth brings unique challenges to your heart. It’s a natural part of the process, so there is no need to be concerned. There are steps you can take to foster a healthy pregnancy and protect your overall well-being, and even if problems arise, it rarely means you won’t be able to carry to full term. If you’ve been struggling to get pregnant, you may need the help of a Melbourne fertility clinic. Here are key insights about heart health and its connection to your pregnancy journey.
Heart Health Before, During, and After Pregnancy
Before Getting Pregnant and During
Knowing that your heart health affects both you and your baby should be a good motivator to be as healthy as possible before you get pregnant. A pre-pregnancy checkup will let you know if you have high blood pressure or any other health problems that can be alleviated before you get pregnant. Here are some tips for achieving better cardiovascular health before and during pregnancy:
- Get to a healthy weight. Losing weight is one of the most effective ways to lower high blood pressure. Talk to your doctor about your ideal weight. Then try to get to that weight before getting pregnant by eating healthy and exercising.
- Eat a healthy diet. Junk food is bad for your cardiovascular health because the extra sugars get converted into fat that clogs your arteries. Try to stick to a balanced, healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables. Your doctor might also recommend a prenatal vitamin before you become pregnant.
- Stay active. Getting in physical activity every day is going to improve your heart health. Exercise can be as simple as walking and doing yoga.
- Stop smoking. Cigarette smoking poses significant risks for a developing baby and can lead to premature birth. When you have high blood pressure and you smoke, it can weaken the walls of your blood vessels.
Having good cardiovascular health before and during pregnancy carries benefits that can last for years to come, according to research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. Researchers at the Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands studied the heart health of 2,000 women during pregnancy and again ten years later. The women in good cardiovascular health had less thickening of the arteries in the neck (atherosclerosis) ten years after pregnancy. They also had better postpartum heart health.
The science shows that having good cardiovascular health going into a pregnancy has benefits that will carry over until later in life.
Risk Factors for Heart Problems
Issues like coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, and cardiomyopathy are some of the leading causes of life-threatening pregnancy complications every year. You might be more at risk of pregnancy-related heart problems if any of the following apply to you:
- Overweight or obese
- Age 40 or older
- Illegal drug use
- Alcohol use
- Existing heart disease
- Existing health conditions like diabetes, anemia, or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
Warning Signs During & After Pregnancy
It’s important to know the symptoms of potential heart problems during pregnancy, so you don’t dismiss it as simply not feeling well. It’s also possible to develop a heart problem during pregnancy that doesn’t manifest until some time later. You should be mindful of the following symptoms during and after pregnancy:
- Chest or belly pain
- Overwhelming exhaustion
- A worsening headache
- Difficulty breathing
- Swelling or edema
If you sense any irregularities in your health during pregnancy, it’s advisable to reach out to your doctor or seek prompt medical attention.
Your heart health plays a pivotal role in the holistic journey of pregnancy, from preconception to postpartum care. Being informed, proactive, and responsive to your body’s signals ensures a smoother and healthier pregnancy experience.
If you are struggling to get pregnant, Viera Fertility can help. Our experienced and compassionate staff can help diagnose health problems that might be preventing you from getting pregnant. Contact us to schedule an appointment, so we can help turn you from a patient into a parent.