During pregnancy, there’s increased blood in the body, which results in palpitations. The sensation can be described as an uncomfortable and strange heartbeat, racing, pounding, or fluttering. The situation might feel alarming, but it is normal during pregnancy and is not harmful.
Pregnancy brings about many changes in the body, such as hormonal changes, a growing belly, etc. The increased amount of blood in the body can result in the heart rate being 25% faster than usual, resulting in heart palpitations.
Along with other changes in your body during pregnancy, such as fatigue, morning sickness, and tiredness, your body would bring about more changes due to the increased blood amount. Some symptoms may not be noticeable to pregnant women, such as heart palpitations, while others may be noticeable. We would explain the symptoms of such a condition, the causes, and the treatment.
Heart Palpitations during Pregnancy and What do they feel like:
Heart palpitations are found to be common during pregnancy. The palpitations can be experienced once you’re pregnant, or you may start feeling them before you’re pregnant, and the feeling continues throughout the pregnancy. Since your body now has to do extra work to pump the blood for your body and the baby, the heart has to work faster, resulting in a faster heartbeat. This results in heart palpitations.
The sensations of such heartbeats and not very normal and can feel like:
- Irregular heartbeats
- Skipping beats
Whether you’re pregnant or not, you should always consult your doctor if you feel changes in your heartbeat. Although heart palpitations during pregnancy are common, they can still be a sign of an underlying condition and must be diagnosed before it’s too late.
Symptoms and Causes of Heart Palpitations:
The symptoms can be the weird sensations that you feel which can be:
You feel like your heart is beating with increased force. You can feel like your heart is beating in your ears.
The sensation can be described as if your heart were flipping. It can be a fluttery feeling in your chest.
- Irregular heartbeat:
You can feel like your heart is beating irregularly or it can feel like your heart is missing a beat or two.
The causes of heart palpitations have a longer list. During pregnancy, the blood volume in the body increases by about half the original volume. The body now has more blood to pump to the body and the fetus. This is the primary reason why you’re experiencing heart palpitations. However, there are many risk factors during pregnancy. These are as follows:
- Anemia: it is referred to as low red blood cell count in the body. Anemia is also common during pregnancy as the mother and the child require blood. For more blood production, consuming iron-rich foods and supplements is essential. The increase in body fluid is more than the red blood cells causing anemia.
- Anxiety: if you have a history of depression or you’re currently feeling anxiety/depression, you’re more likely to feel heart palpitations. This can happen under a lot of stress.
- Caffeine consumption: both chocolates and coffee consist of caffeine. These are high in sugars and salt,, which can cause heart racing. Caffeine is also known to increase blood pressure.
- Dehydration: when you’re dehydrated, there’s a good chance that you also have an electrolyte imbalance. Water contains minerals, and electrolytes that control the heart’s rhythm, hence keeping yourself hydrated all the time.
- Weight gain: during pregnancy, weight gain is inevitable, but if you’re obese and are gaining extra weight by having unnecessary fats or sugary drinks, then you’re more like to have heart palpitations along with other heart problems. Make sure you keep yourself fit for your health and do not consume extra fats, as it would cause problems later on.
- Hypoglycemia and hypotension: hypoglycemia is the low sugar level in the blood, while hypotension refers to low blood pressure. Both are common during pregnancy.
Other reasons for heart palpitations due to heart conditions that are less common are as follows:
- Atrial fibrillation
- Valve disease
- Heart failure
If you feel any symptoms, you should seek medical help and let your doctor know of your condition. The doctor would then decide whether your condition is normal or if you would need further check-ups. Your doctor would probably go through your medical history for any previous heart problems or if there are heart problems in your family. The doctor may ask a set of questions regarding your condition that you should answer to help diagnose.
He would then order some tests that would help in the confirmation of suspected conditions. The test may be as follows:
- CBC test: it’s a complete blood count test used to detect anemia or any possible infection
- Chest X-ray for lung and heart
- Echocardiogram to check the heart functioning and the electrical activity
- A heart monitor may be attached and observed for a day or two to record the palpitations and irregular heartbeat.
What are the Treatment Methods
The treatment for heart palpitations depends on the cause. If you have normal palpitations during pregnancy, you don’t need any treatment. You might only be asked to keep track of your condition and report in case you notice changes.
In case you require treatment, that too in a safe way during pregnancy, the treatment methods can be as follows:
- Medication prescription for rhythm disorders and palpitations
- Reference to an endocrinologist for hyperthyroidism
- Safe treatment for underlying conditions such as hyperthyroidism or anemia.
Some healthcare providers can advise you to bring about changes in your lifestyle and adopt healthy habits. These are:
- Hydration: drinking plenty of water to keep your body hydrated as the body requires extra fluids for the mother’s and the baby’s health. Alcohol should be avoided as it can harm the fetus and contribute to palpitations.
- Avoiding caffeine: as discussed before that, caffeine can cause palpitations as it increases blood pressure. Caffeine consisting foods should better be avoided. Limit your coffee and chocolate intake.
- Relaxation: take long, deep breaths and relax your body. You are less likely to feel palpitations when you’re physically and mentally relaxed.
Preventive Tips for Palpitations during Pregnancy:
You can consider the following tips when you’re suffering from palpitations:
- Don’t take medications without prescriptions
- Avoid nicotine and alcohol
- Adopt healthy lifestyle
- Have snacks from time to time to avoid low blood sugar
- Limit caffeine intake
- Go for relaxing exercises
- Keep your body hydrated
It is less likely that palpitations during pregnancy can get serious, but there’s always room for complications. Your pregnancy can be classified as high risk in cases of heart disease. In such cases, your OB/GYN would contact a cardiologist to monitor the changes and heart activity. In severe cardiac conditions, extra-strain pregnancy can lead to the following:
- The abnormal rhythm of the heart
- Pulmonary edema
Death is a possible but rare complication.
When to Contact your Doctor?
If you notice changes or unusual sensations, you should seek professional help and contact your doctor. These changes may be severe, and before your condition gets worse, you should immediately consult. These could be:
- Prolonged palpitations
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Trouble when breathing
- Chest pain
- You have palpitations more often now
In conclusion to the discussion, we know that palpitations during pregnancy are normal and expected but shall not be ignored as they could be a result of some underlying medical condition. In case of changes in such condition should be reported to the doctor immediately.
On the other side to avoid any complications or minimize problems, you should adopt a healthy lifestyle and keep yourself hydrated. Also, bring about healthy changes such as in diet to keep yourself and your baby healthy and nourished.