For most people, a heart condition or having had a heart attack is not a barrier to having children.
If you’re a woman of childbearing age and have a severe heart condition, you may be advised against becoming pregnant. This is because being pregnant puts extra strain on your heart and could make your condition worse. But, the risk to your heart will depend on your individual heart condition, so talk to your GP first.
If you become pregnant unexpectedly, it’s important to visit your doctor as soon as possible to discuss your condition and to help make sure you have as healthy and safe a pregnancy as possible.
Trying for a baby when you have a heart condition
If you have a heart condition and decide to have a baby, you may be concerned about your condition getting worse, or about taking medications during pregnancy and the effect they may have on your baby.
The best way to help ensure a healthy pregnancy is to visit your GP or heart specialist before you start trying to get pregnant. This will allow your doctor to answer any questions you might have, fully review your condition, and advise you when your condition is most stable for you to start trying for a baby.
Being pregnant with a heart condition
When you become pregnant, you’ll be monitored more closely by your doctor throughout your pregnancy and very closely when you go into labour. You may be asked to take certain medications to help lower your blood pressure or help manage other risk factors, such as diabetes.
If you’re thinking of having an epidural during your labour, you should also discuss this with your doctor early on in your pregnancy, as an epidural can cause a significant fall in blood pressure.
If you have cardiomyopathy, especially if it was caused by a previous pregnancy (post-partum dilated cardiomyopathy), your doctor may advise that you should not become pregnant again.
Pregnancy and inherited heart conditions
Some heart conditions can be inherited. If you have a heart condition, and you’re concerned about passing on your condition to any children you may have, talk to your specialist clinic. Early tests can be arranged to check for heart disease in your baby.
Our Genetic Information Service can help people with a heart condition that runs in their family. The number to call is 0300 456 8383 and lines are open from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday (charged at a rate similar to 01 or 02 calls).
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