Fast Heartbeat During Pregnancy

Be it physical, mental or emotional, your body goes through a lot of changes during pregnancy. One such change that might worry you is a change or rather increase in your heart rate. Heart palpitations (when you feel that your heart is racing or pounding) are usually harmless and happen because of cardiovascular changes. However, in many instances this seemingly common change can indicate a problem in the heart or other parts of the body, more so if it is sudden. A sudden increase in the heart rate during pregnancy should not be taken lightly. Read on to know more about it.

Is It Normal to Have a High Heart Rate During Pregnancy?

The normal heart rate of a healthy person is between 60 and 80 per minute. However, during pregnancy, it is quite common for this rate to go up to 100. An increased heart rate is called tachycardia and is a common occurrence during pregnancy.

During pregnancy, your body constantly works hard to provide nourishment to your growing baby. As your pregnancy progresses, the amount of blood required by your baby increases and to suffice this requirement, your heart also beats faster to pump more blood into the system.

Causes of High Pulse Rate During Pregnancy

There are lot of factors that can lead to heart palpitations during pregnancy. These are as follows:

  • Anxiety: It is normal for a pregnant woman to worry about her baby’s health. But if you tend to worry a lot or get anxious, it will affect your health. Stress and anxiety during pregnancy can increase your heart rate.

  • A change in the size of the uterus: As your pregnancy progresses, the uterus will increase in size to accommodate the growing baby. As a result your heart will pump more blood to support the uterus. In fact, towards the end of your pregnancy, about 20% of your blood gets supplied to the uterus. This means extra work for your heart which will only adds pressure on it.

  • Changes in the breasts: During and after pregnancy, your mammary glands will prepare the body for breastfeeding. When the breast tissues enlarge and breasts increase in size, the blood flow to the mammary glands will increase. This means, your heart will pump more blood than usual, which might make it pound even more.

  • Changes in the nutrient levels: Complications of the thyroid or a drop in iron levels can also increase the heart rate.

  • Hormonal changes: Hormonal changes and weight gain can cause tachycardia in early pregnancy.

  • Medication: If you take cold or allergy medicines containing pseudoephedrine during pregnancy, your heart rate might increase. This increase is a sign of your body reacting negatively to medicines.

  • Lifestyle factors: Smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, or consuming foods or drinks high in caffeine can increase your heart rate too.

Some Other Serious Causes of Heart Palpitations

  • Coronary heart disease
  • Preeclampsia
  • Underlying heart damage
  • Heart damage from previous pregnancy

Symptoms of Heart Palpitations During Pregnancy

You may experience the following symptoms if you have an increased heart rate during pregnnacy.

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is best that you bring it to your doctor’s notice so that she can check whether these symptoms are normal or not.

Diagnosing Increased Heart Rate During Pregnancy

Your doctor will conduct a series of tests to ensure that both you and your baby are in the prime of health. He will also review your medical history. If you have experienced this problem before, you should inform your doctor about it. The doctor will determine the cause of increased heart rate through an EKG or ECG that measures changes in the blood flow and heart rate.

Basis the results, the doctor will most likely suggest you to follow a healthy diet and perform exercises. This will keep your weight in check and will also prevent additional pressure on the heart.

Elevated Heart Rate Trimester Wise

Cardiovascular functions serve a number of purposes during pregnancy. Apart from aiding the development of the foetus, they also impact on the mother’s physiological and metabolic functions. However, depending on the stage of pregnancy, your heart’s way of functioning also varies.

1. First Trimester

During the first trimester, your heart rate can increase by 15 to 20 beats per minute. The increase in heart rate during this trimester is usually caused by an increase in hormone levels, specifically an increase in progesterone and oestrogen. This is to signal your heart that it must provide more blood for the developing foetus.

2. Second Trimester

In this phase, your body will see a general relaxation of the smooth muscles along with dilation of the arteries to accommodate the increase in blood volume. These changes will ensure that your blood pressure stays normal while increasing your heart rate. During the fourth month, your heart will pump 30% to 50% more blood than usual.

3. Third Trimester

During the last trimester, your heart will not be at its peak of pumping blood. It will pump 40% to 90% more blood than it did in your pre-pregnancy days. This is to ensure that the rapidly growing foetus receives the oxygen and all the nutrients it requires. It also prepares your body for labour during which your heart rate will spike due to the contractions and pain.

Can an Increase in the Heart Rate Affect Your Pregnancy?

Heart palpitations or an increase in heart rate during pregnancy is usually a sign of a healthy pregnancy. This means that your body is working hard to ensure that your baby gets the oxygen and essential nutrients to develop healthily.

If your heart beats faster but it not accompanied with other serious symptoms, there is nothing to worry about. You must remember that this is a normal physiological response of your body.

How to Deal With an Increased Heart Rate While Pregnant

Although increased heart is usually normal, it is suggested that you make certain changes in your lifestyle for your and your baby’s good health. If an increase in your heart rate is because of some serious problem, your doctor will prescribe the course of treatment and suggest you to take precautions.

1. Treatment

While there are many drugs that help with tachycardia, it is best not to use them while pregnant as some of these medicines could hamper with your baby’s development. Before taking any medicines, you should consult a doctor.

2. Remedies You Can Try at Home

Staying calm is one of the best things you can do if you are experiencing heart palpitations during pregnancy. Drinking moderate amounts of chamomile tea or aromatherapy with lavender can also calm you down.

Make sure that you get enough sleep every day and that your sleep patterns remain undisturbed. Practising yoga and meditation can also calm you down but be sure to clarify with your doctor before trying anything.

Warning Signs

If you experience a sudden increase in heart rate during pregnancy which is also accompanied by some other symptoms mentioned above, it could be a sign of a serious problem, perhaps a heart condition that you were unaware of previously. Make sure that you seek immediate medical help if you experience one or more symptoms along with heart palpitations.

An increase in heart rate during pregnancy is common and happens because of the physiological changes your body goes through. Ensure that you get enough rest and do not stress during this time. Also, have an honest and open conversation with your doctor if you have any fear about your pregnancy.

Also Read: Listening to Foetal Heartbeat during Pregnancy