If you have a condition related to your heart, such as high blood pressure or heart disease, you may be worried about how it could affect a pregnancy. The good news is that by taking precautions and managing your health now, you and your health care provider can make sure you’re ready for pregnancy.
High blood pressure
A condition such as high blood pressure can cause preeclampsia and premature birth during pregnancy. High blood pressure can put extra stress on your heart and kidneys. This can lead to heart disease, kidney disease and stroke. But managing your blood pressure can help you have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. If you have high blood pressure, talk to your health care provider at a preconception checkup. This is a medical checkup you get before pregnancy to take care of health conditions that may affect your pregnancy.
Here are some other things you can do:
- Get to a healthy weight. Talk to your provider about the weight that’s right for you.
- Eat healthy foods.
- Do something active every day.
- Don’t smoke. Smoking during pregnancy can cause problems for your baby, like premature birth. It's also dangerous for people with high blood pressure because it damages blood vessel walls.
Managing heart conditions
During pregnancy, your heart has a lot more to do and this extra stress can be a concern. The good news is that women with heart disease can have a safe pregnancy with minimal risks.
If you have a congenital heart disease, the best thing you can do is to talk to your health care team, which includes your cardiologist and prenatal care provider before you get pregnant. This will allow you to understand what risks (if any) are involved for your pregnancy. You can also determine if there are any concerns with your heart that need to be fixed prior to pregnancy such as any surgical repairs or medication changes.
Be sure to ask your provider about any medications you are currently taking at your preconception checkup. Many heart conditions require medications to be controlled and your provider can help you choose one that’s safe for you and your baby.
Taking these steps now will allow you to manage any conditions before you conceive to make sure you’re healthy when you get pregnant.