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Pregnancy brings in many changes in a woman’s body and increased heart rate or heart palpitations are one of them. Though you may feel startled if you are facing palpitations for the first time. This is a very common occurrence during pregnancy. Read the following article to know everything about heart palpitations and how you can effectively manage them during pregnancy.
What is Heart Palpitation?
Heart palpitations occur due to cardiovascular changes in your body during pregnancy. There is approximately 50 percent increase in your blood volume in pregnancy. Therefore, increased blood volume results in heart palpitations- a condition where you can prominently feel your heartbeat which beats at a considerably higher rate. You may experience these sensations in your throat or chest. Though most cases of palpitations during early pregnancy are harmless and usually subside on their own, however, sometimes it may be indicative of some underlying medical complication.
Causes of Heart Palpitations in Pregnancy
Here are some of the causes of your rapid heartbeat or heart palpitations in pregnancy:
1. Changes In Blood Volume
There is an increase in the amount of blood in the body during pregnancy. More amount of blood means the heart has to work extra to pump the extra blood. The increased heart rate is indicative of the fact that your heart is working hard and sending blood to various body parts, including placenta.
2. Changing Hormones In Pregnancy
Pregnancy increases the level of progesterone in the body. The increased amounts of progesterone are also responsible for increasing the heart rate.
3. The Changing Pregnancy Emotions
You may notice or experience yourself battling with various emotions during pregnancy; this is also one of the side-effects of fluctuating hormonal levels in the body. The stress and anxiety during pregnancy give rise to the increased heartbeat.
4. Medical Condition Or Ailment
Sometimes certain health conditions during pregnancy such as thyroid, anaemia, low blood sugar or other medical conditions may cause heart palpitation. Though heart palpitations are harmless during pregnancy, sometimes it may indicate other medical ailments.
5. Intake Of Caffeinated Beverages
High amount of caffeine in your blood during pregnancy may cause an increased heart rate. Therefore, if you drink more coffee or tea during pregnancy then you may experience increased heart rate. This is why most doctors recommended pregnant women to limit their caffeine intake.
Symptoms of Heart Palpitations During Pregnancy
Different women may experience or report their heart palpitations and shortness of breath during pregnancy in a different manner. However, we have short-listed some common feelings or symptoms that you may experience in pregnancy:
- Excessive or increased heart rate
- Breathing difficulty
- The general feeling of uneasiness
These are some of the commonly experienced symptoms of heart palpitations.
Diagnosis of Heart Palpitations while Pregnant
As soon as you report your symptoms to your doctor, you will be asked about your medical history. Your doctor will also inquire if you experienced palpitations before or if any of your close family members experience heart palpitations. Your doctor may ask you to undergo following tests:
- You may be told to wear a Holter monitor that will observe your heart rate for 24 to 48 hours to find out any abnormality.
- The electrical activity of your heart may be measured.
- Blood tests may be conducted to check conditions like thyroid etc.
You may have to undergo further screening or tests if your doctor suspects any complication.
Dealing with Heart Palpitations
You may wonder how to stop heart palpitations during pregnancy. Here we have some measures that you may easily adopt to reduce your symptoms of heart palpitations during pregnancy:
1. Take Adequate Rest
Mostly the heart palpitations may subside when you take adequate amount of rest. Make yourself comfortable and lie down on your bed take a short nap to feel better.
2. Take Care Of Body’s Fluid Intake
Pregnancy may make you prone to dehydration and dehydration, in turn, can trigger increased heart rate. Therefore, keep yourself well-hydrated by drinking enough water and other liquids to ward off dehydration.
3. Manage Your Emotions
It is very common for any pregnant woman to undergo many changing emotions during pregnancy. You may follow any relaxation technique such as yoga, meditation or exercising. However, it is advised that you consult your doctor before making any such changes in your lifestyle.
4. Stay Away From The Triggers
Some food items such as coffee, tea and other caffeinated beverages may trigger increased heart rate during pregnancy. You should avoid the intake of such products to the minimum.
5. Avoid Physical Exertion
Any kind of physical exertion is not recommended in pregnancy. It may not only harm you and your baby but it may also result in increased heart rate or heart palpitations.
6. Refrain From Consuming Stimulant Medicines
Some over-the-counter medicines for common cold and cough may contain stimulants. Stimulant medicines may result in increased heart rate. Consult your doctor before consuming any such medicine on your own.
7. Identify The Reasons
Apart from certain food items, sometimes some situations may also result in increased heart rate. Therefore, if you experience heart palpitations regularly in pregnancy, it will be a good idea to make a diary and track what could be the probable reasons and then you may avoid doing that activity or eating that food item etc. that may have possibly caused heart palpitations.
8. Take Cold Water Shower
The best way to control your heart palpitation is to take a cold water shower. The cold water gets your heart rate to normal and makes you feel better and relaxed.
When Should You Call the Doctor?
As discussed above, heart palpitation in the second trimester or heart palpitation in the third trimester is a common phenomenon in pregnancy and there is nothing to feel concerned about. However, it is strictly recommended that if you feel any of the following symptoms you should seek immediate medical help or call the doctor:
- The feeling of dizziness
- You experience shortness of breath or difficulty in breathing
- You experience excessive sweating
- You feel tightness in your chest, arms or jaw
- You feel that you may pass-out or faint
- You experience unusual heart palpitations more often
If you register any of the above-mentioned symptoms during pregnancy then it may be due to some underlying condition. It is important that you get a complete check-up done to rule out the concern of any probable complication.