Can A Woman With A Heart Problem Get Pregnant? Here’s What Experts Say

Can A Woman With A Heart Problem Get Pregnant? Here’s What Experts Say

12 Sep 2022 | 5 min Read

Reema Shah

Author | 614 Articles

Having a heart condition can affect how your body copes with pregnancy. The most important thing is being aware of the risks involved in pregnancy and seeking expert advice. Being pregnant puts extra strain on your heart and could make your existing heart condition worse.

The risk to your heart will depend on your heart condition, so you should talk to your GP first if you’re planning to get pregnant.

Understanding Heart Problems During Pregnancy

If you’re a woman who has come to childbearing age and have a heart condition which has the chance to put you or your unborn baby at risk, talk to your doctor for advice. 

So if you become pregnant unexpectedly, you must visit your doctor as soon as possible to discuss your condition. Your doctor will give you the necessary medication to help your pregnancy become as healthy and safe as possible.

If you are worried that having a heart condition can affect your fertility, there’s nothing to worry about. Community expert Dr Pooja Marathe says, “There is no connection of fertility risk involved with heart disease. Both can be treated as separate elements and need to be dealt with separately.”

Trying To Get Pregnant With A Heart Condition

Many women wanting to get pregnant have a common question which is – can my heart be able to handle pregnancy? Community Expert Dr Pooja Marathe says, “With appropriate medical care and treatment as advised by the doctor, many women with heart defects can have a healthy pregnancy. However, women who are living with heart defects and are considering having a baby should talk to a doctor before becoming pregnant to discuss how their pregnancy might affect them and their baby.”

can a woman with a heart problem get pregnant
Women with heart defects can have a healthy pregnancy if all precautions are taken / Image credit – Canva

Does Pregnancy Worsen Heart Problems?

According to Dr Pooja Marathe, pregnancy stresses your heart and the circulatory system as well. During pregnancy, the blood volume increases by 30 to 50 per cent to nourish your growing baby. Plus, your heart pumps more blood each minute and your heart rate increases. Labour and delivery also add to your heart’s workload.

Hence, when you become pregnant, you must go for regular check-ups. Your doctor will closely monitor you throughout your pregnancy up to the time you go into labour. Regular check-ups ensure that any increase in your blood pressure or other related problems are spotted quickly. 

Your doctor may advise you to take certain medications to help control your blood pressure along with medications for your blood glucose levels if you have diabetes

Labour And Heart Condition

If you are considering having an epidural during your labour, you should also discuss this with your doctor early on in your pregnancy. This is because an epidural can cause a significant drop in blood pressure.

Furthermore, if you have cardiomyopathy, especially caused by a previous pregnancy, your doctor may advise against you becoming pregnant again. Cardiomyopathy is a heart condition in which the heart muscle makes it harder for the heart to pump blood to the rest of the body.

Dr Pooja Marathe says, “Many women with heart defects can have a healthy pregnancy. Women living with heart defects who are considering having a baby should talk with a doctor and discuss in detail before becoming pregnant to discuss how their pregnancy might affect them and their baby and also understand the complexity of the situation.”

Pregnancy And Inherited Heart Conditions

Some heart conditions in women can be inherited or developed in the womb. So, if you have a heart condition, and are concerned about passing on your condition to any children you may have, talk to your doctor. You can arrange early tests to check for heart disease in your baby.

heart problems during pregnancy and heart condition
Some common heart problems during pregnancy can lead to delivering a premature baby / Image credit – Canva

Plan Pregnancy, Delivery and Postnatal Care

Here are some measures that you should take and discuss with your medical experts (cardio-obstetrics) during pre-pregnancy counselling- 

  • Proper medications, testing and monitoring are needed during your pregnancy. During pregnancy, your heart rate will increase and your blood pressure will drop as your blood volume increases up to 50%, causing swings that can be dangerous for those with certain heart conditions.
  • Labour and delivery lead to sudden changes in blood flow, and your cardiovascular system has to quickly adjust. Some heart patients may need equipment that is not found in traditional labour and delivery rooms. Others with a heart condition may need interventions such as induction or cesarean delivery.
  • In the six to eight weeks after delivery, some women with certain heart conditions have a greater risk of post-delivery complications and thus may need emergency medical care.
  • Have a long-term postpartum health plan. You must continue to see your cardiologist regularly even after you’ve delivered your baby.

If you have heart disease and find that you are pregnant, meet with a doctor as soon as possible to determine your course of care.

Cover image credit – Canva

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