Heart health is important for all of us, but it’s especially important if you’re pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant. During pregnancy, your heart has a lot more work to do than before you got pregnant. Your heart has to beat faster and pump more blood to support your pregnancy. Heart disease affects many women each year in the U.S. In fact, heart problems are one of the leading causes of pregnancy complications and pregnancy-related death.
Here are some things you can do to protect your heart health:
Know your family health history. Your family health history is a record of any health conditions and treatments that you and everyone in your family have had. It can help you find out about medical problems that run in your family. Knowing your family health history can help you make important health decisions. For example, if heart disease runs in your family, your health care provider may want to check your blood pressure and cholesterol often to make decisions about treatments you may need.
Get to a healthy weight before pregnancy. Being overweight increases your risk for high blood pressure. Eating healthy foods and being physically active can help you lose weight before you get pregnant. Getting to a healthy weight before pregnancy is good for both you and your baby.
Check your blood pressure regularly. High blood pressure can cause problems during pregnancy, like preeclampsia and premature birth. High blood pressure usually doesn’t cause signs or symptoms, so you may not know you have it. If you have high blood pressure, talk to your provider about how to manage it before and during pregnancy.
Don’t smoke. Smoking during pregnancy can cause problems for your baby, like premature birth. It’s also dangerous if you have high blood pressure because it damages blood vessel walls. Tell your health care provider if you need help to quit smoking. And don’t use electronic cigarettes (also called e-cigarettes). These contain chemicals, like nicotine, that can harm you and your baby. Quit smoking before you get pregnant.
Visit marchofdimes.org to learn more about how to be healthy before and during pregnancy.