If you are experiencing heart palpitation for the first time, no wonder, you are scared.However, more often, it is not a big issue. Palpitation is just one of those annoying pregnancy symptoms.
What Is Heart Palpitation?
Pregnancy brings many changes, both physically and emotionally. Some changes are evident like a growing belly and mood swings. On the other hand, some cannot be seen from the outside. One example is the increased heart rate, which is most of the time, associated with cardiovascular changes in your body (due to increased blood volume). This increased heart rate gives rise to another annoying issue – heart palpitations.
Heart palpitation can be considered as a condition in which your heartbeat becomes more noticeable to you. Because pregnancy expands your blood volume by upto 50%, it can cause the heart to beat faster. You could feel every beat of your heart, which is beating at an extremely fast rate, skipping a beat here and there, pounding, and racing as if you just finished a marathon. You might note this sensation in your chest or throat too.
Generally, the pregnancy palpitations are harmless and go away of their own accord. Sometimes, this can be an indication of an underlying issue related to cardiovascular or thyroid conditions. Here we are going to cover what causes pregnancy palpitations, and what you can do about them.
What Causes Heart Palpitations During Pregnancy?
Most of the individuals might have experienced palpitations during some point of their life. However, many women experience them more frequently during pregnancy. Why are palpitations more common during pregnancy? Here are a few factors that make pregnant women more prone to palpitation:
- Increased blood volume: During pregnancy, the blood volume increases by 50%. Hence, the heart would have to work more as it has to pump more blood. Speeding up its rhythm with greater force is inevitable for the heart to maintain a healthy blood flow to all body parts including the placenta. This increased heart rate can increase the chances of heart palpitations during pregnancy
- Changes in hormone levels: Fluctuations in the hormone levels can also be responsible for palpitations during pregnancy. One of the functions of increased level of progesterone is to increase the heart beat rate
- Medical conditions: Thyroid related issues (hyperactive thyroid), low blood sugar, dehydration, anemia are some of the other health conditions, which can trigger palpitations. Therefore, palpitations during pregnancy can be an indication of an underlying issue, which cannot be neglected
- Emotional issues: Pregnant or not, stress and anxiety can trigger palpitations. Pregnancy is a time you are more vulnerable to emotional issues (another side effect of pouring in of pregnancy hormones) and therefore more vulnerable to palpitations
- Consuming caffeine: Consuming too much caffeine can trigger heart palpitation, especially, during pregnancy. That is why, the doctors recommend reducing or stopping the intake of caffeine during pregnancy
What Are The Symptoms Of Heart Palpitations During Pregnancy?
A strongly beating heart accompanied with lightheadedness or breathing difficulties could indicate some serious issues so immediate medical attention is required. If you experience chest pain, irregular pulse or are coughing up blood with a rapid heart beat and a pounding heart it often needs medical attention. Whatever be your symptoms, you must seek medical attention if you are not feeling upto the mark.
When Should I Seek Medical Attention For Pregnancy Palpitations?
You will be relieved to learn that palpitations during pregnancy are usually harmless. However, sometimes an underlying issue can trigger palpitation. Therefore, it is very important to see a doctor right away if you experience other symptoms along with palpitations like:
- Palpitation along with shortness of breath, pain in the chest, and dizziness can be an indication of cardiac arrhythmia a common cardiac issue, which needs treatment
- Feeling palpitations more frequently with more noticeably abnormal heart rhythm can be an indication of the hyperactive thyroid which ought to be treated as fast as possible as it affects the development of the baby
- In the event that the heart palpitations are exceptionally repetitive and are accompanied by chest pain, nausea, fainting, tightness in jaws and arms and if start to sweat profusely, it is important to seek medical advice with immediate effect, as it can be an indication of serious underlying issue (most probably connected with cardiovascular)
How Can I deal With Heart Palpitations During Pregnancy?
Treatment for palpitations relies on upon what is the hidden cause. The medicines are prescribed only after weighing the necessity with the potential danger of taking them, as a few solutions negatively influence the development of the child. However, broadly speaking, pregnancy palpitations are mostly harmless and pass out on their own. In that case, if the doctor finds no particular cause, no treatment is required. By keeping certain factors (that trigger palpitation) at bay will help to manage the palpitation during pregnancy.
- Manage the emotional issues: Stress, anxiety, and other emotional issues that arise in the course of pregnancy can be eased by practicing relaxation exercises, yoga, meditation, etc. reading books, hearing music, etc. will also help you to get rid of stress, anxiety, fear, etc.
- Identify the triggers: In addition to the common triggers, there will be some particular situations that may trigger palpitations. These are strictly personal and the ones that trigger palpitations in one person, may not have an effect on another one. Therefore, maintain a personal diary, which helps to track what you eat, drink, or were doing while you feel palpitations. This will eventually show a pattern, which gives you an idea of what to avoid
- Say ‘no’ to some substance triggering pregnancy palpitations: As we already discussed above, there are certain substances that will trigger pregnancy palpitation like alcohol and caffeine. Smoking and usage of illegal drugs will also trigger pregnancy palpitations
- Stay well hydrated: Dehydration can result in palpitation. Therefore, stay well hydrated
- Say ‘no’ to medicines that contain stimulants: Some cough and cold medicines contain stimulants that trigger palpitation. That is why over the counter medicines are not to be taken in the course of pregnancy
- Avoid activities that demand physical exertion: Though exercises are good to lead a healthy pregnancy, avoid the activities that are above the moderate level (cardio)
Though heart palpitations during pregnancy can send any woman into a frenzy, you will be relieved to know that they most usually are harmless, nonetheless annoying. It is still suggested not to ignore this symptom and let your doctor know your symptoms to enable him to take necessary steps.