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Heart Rate During Pregnancy: What's The Ideal?

Medically reviewed by Lauren Labrador, MD, FPCP, DPCC · Cardiology


Written by Hello Doctor Medical Panel · Updated Dec 04, 2022

Heart Rate During Pregnancy: What's The Ideal?

What is the normal heart rate during pregnancy? As your heart works harder for you and the baby, many pregnant people also experience a dip in blood pressure, especially in the early stages of pregnancy. This is because the body tries to pump blood to the organs and placenta. One’s pre-pregnancy heart rate can be used to estimate their typical pregnancy heart rate.

What is the normal heart rate during pregnancy?

By the beginning of the ninth week of pregnancy, the normal fetal heart rate is an average of 175 bpm. At this point, it starts a rapid decline to the normal fetal heart rate for mid-pregnancy, which is about 120-180 bpm. There is no set definition of a pregnancy heart rate that is too high or too low. Instead, doctors look at a person’s baseline heart rate and how their heart rate changes over time.

According to a 2019 meta-analysis of 36,239 pregnant women, the average heart rate increases by about 10%, or 7-8 beats per minute (bpm), over the course of pregnancy. At 10 weeks, the average heart rate was 79.3 beats per minute. By 40 weeks, it was 86.9 beats per minute. If a person’s heart rate was higher or lower before becoming pregnant, their heart rate during pregnancy may also be higher.

According to a 2007 research, while some of these heart rate variations may be signs of a cardiac condition, the majority of them are harmless. Nevertheless, transient heart palpitations and modest heart rate changes are common during pregnancy.

What causes abnormal heart rate?

Unless you are extremely active, heart rates below 60 bpm may be cause for concern.

Pregnancy is associated with different hemodynamic changes and stresses on the heart. It begins as early as the first trimester and these changes may result in increases in heart rate in women during pregnancy. Mechanisms include relative anemia in pregnancy, increase in demand, increase in volume among others. 

Other reasons include:

  • Pregnancy heart rates may also fall outside of the typical range in patients with low or high resting heart rates. Your heart rate can increase by up to 20 beats per minute while you are resting, which is likely why you feel like your heart is racing during pregnancy.
  • Heart illness is the leading cause of pregnancy-related mortality.
  • Heart health disorders are more common during pregnancy. Changes in heart rate may occasionally be an indication of problems with the heart’s electrical system, a blocked artery, or other heart health problems.
  • A person’s heart beats faster when they are anxious, and some people get even more concerned when they notice their heart is racing quickly.
  • Arrhythmias are palpitations or other disruptions of the heart’s rhythm. For those who have had them in the past, pregnancy may make their condition worse.
  • Physically active people may have lower resting heart rates; this is true even during pregnancy.

How to achieve normal heart rate in pregnancy

You can do the following:

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Avoid caffeine
  • Never drink alcohol while pregnant
  • Relax your body and mind with deep breathing exercises

Consult a doctor before attempting to change your heart rate, and seek emergency medical attention if you experience heart palpitations. People whose heart rates are outside of their normal range should focus on why this occurs rather than attempting to reach a specific number of beats per minute.

Physical activity for expectant mothers

The majority of expectant women need at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity per week. Consider swimming, walking, and other low-impact exercises. Yoga or stretching may promote strong muscles and lessen aches and pains associated with pregnancy. Light to moderate exercise is typically safe during pregnancy. Before starting a new or challenging regimen, consult your doctor.

Making an appointment with a doctor or midwife at least once during the first trimester and thereafter on a regular basis.

Other preventative measures include eating fruits, vegetables, proteins, and other nutritional meals.

Anxiety can raise heart rate and make pregnancy more difficult. As a result, people experiencing anxiety should speak with a doctor, practice deep, calm breathing techniques, and seek the advice of a mental health specialist with expertise in prenatal mental health.

Regular prenatal care that includes monitoring heart health can reduce the risk of having an untreated heart condition.

Possible risks

The chance of having a heart attack during pregnancy or within six months of giving birth has grown by 25% between 2002 and 2014, according to a recent study. 

According to a study analysis, 4500 women out of 49.8 million experienced heart disease either during pregnancy or within six months of birth. According to researchers, the reason for this increase is late pregnancies, as women aged 35 to 39 are at an increased risk of developing heart disease. This is not the case for women under the age of 30. In 2002, the number of heart attacks was seven. But in 2014, the number increased to 9.5.

Researchers also took into account characteristics like obesity and diabetes, which are also growing dramatically among pregnant women. The study found that women aged 40 to 45 were 10 times more likely to get a heart attack during pregnancy.

When to go to the doctor

It’s important to schedule regular prenatal appointments with a doctor or midwife during pregnancy. Explain any changes in heart rate, and make sure the healthcare provider takes heart rate and blood pressure readings.

During pregnancy, your resting heart rate may rise by up to 20 beats per minute, which may explain why you feel like your heart is racing. It’s frequently one of the first signs of pregnancy, so it’s crucial to schedule these appointments, especially if you don’t lead an active lifestyle.

Key Takeaways

The amount of blood in your body increases significantly during pregnancy, and as a result, your heart has to work harder to pump the extra blood throughout your body and to your unborn child.

Heart rate changes during pregnancy are normal because the body must pump more blood and responds by lowering blood pressure and pumping more quickly. While some people may not notice these changes, others may find them unsettling or disturbing. A pregnant person should consult a doctor.

Learn more about Being Pregnant here

Disclaimer

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Lauren Labrador, MD, FPCP, DPCC

Cardiology


Written by Hello Doctor Medical Panel · Updated Dec 04, 2022

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