Pregnancy with a heart condition

Image of a pregnant woman wearing a red dress

Having a heart condition can affect how your body copes with pregnancy.

The most important thing is being aware of the risks involved in pregnancy and seeking expert advice tailored to you.

For most women, a heart condition or having had a heart attack is not a barrier to being pregnant or giving birth.

Being pregnant puts extra strain on your heart and could make your existing heart condition worse. The risk to your heart will depend on your individual heart condition, so you should talk to your GP first if you’re planning to try to get pregnant.

If you’re a woman of childbearing age and have a heart condition that would put you or your unborn baby at risk, you may be advised against becoming pregnant.

If you become pregnant unexpectedly, it’s important to visit your doctor as soon as possible to discuss your condition and medication to help make sure your pregnancy is as healthy and safe as possible.

Trying for a baby when you have a heart condition

If you have a heart condition and decide to try and get pregnant, 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, and fully assess and review your condition.  

Being pregnant with a heart condition 

When you become pregnant, you’ll be monitored very closely by your doctor throughout your pregnancy and when you go into labour. Make sure you attend all your check-ups with your specialist and your antenatal appointments so any increase in your blood pressure, for example, can be spotted quickly. 

You may be asked to take certain medications to help control your blood pressure and your blood glucose levels if you have 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 drop in blood pressure.

If you have cardiomyopathy, especially if it was caused by a previous pregnancy (post-partum cardiomyopathy), your doctor may advise that you should not become pregnant again.

Pregnancy and inherited/congenital heart conditions 

Some heart conditions can be inherited (passed down through families) or develop in the womb (congenital).

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.

The BHF's 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). 

If you’re concerned about your baby developing a congenital heart condition, early scans and other tests can be arranged to check for heart disease in your baby.

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