Cardiovascular / Cardiology Pregnancy / Obstetrics

What is a normal heart rate during pregnancy?

During pregnancy, the heart rate typically rises, as the body works to pump blood into the organs and placenta.

A drop in blood pressure is also experienced by many pregnant women, especially in early pregnancy.

In pregnancy, there is a large variety of normal heart rates. Knowing a person’s prepregnancy heart rate could help determine their typical pregnancy heart rate.

What is a normal heart rate during pregnancy?

Heart rate during pregnancy

There is no common definition of a heart rate that is too high or too low for pregnancy. Doctors, instead, look at the baseline heart rate of a person and how their heart rate varies with time.

A meta-analysis from 2019 looked at heart rate rises in 36,239 pregnant individuals. The authors found that the average rise in heart rate was about 10%, or 7-8 beats per minute (BPM).

The study also showed that, during pregnancy, the average heart rate increases gradually. At 10 weeks, 79.3 BPM was the average heart rate. The average rate was 86.9 BPM within 40 weeks.

The heart rate of a person during pregnancy can be higher or lower than these figures if their heart rate is higher or lower during pregnancy.

Brief heart palpitations and slight heart rate changes in pregnancy are normal. A 2007 study stresses that while these heart rate variations in rare cases can signify a heart problem, most are harmless.

What causes an abnormal heart rate during pregnancy?

For a few factors, the heart rate of a person does not fall into the average range during pregnancy.

Abnormal starting heart rate

Pregnancy heart rates that are often beyond the normal range may be experienced by people with low or high resting heart rates.

Heart disease

Sometimes, heart rate changes signal a problem with the electrical system of the heart, a blocked artery, or other heart health issues.

During pregnancy, cardiac health complications are more common. Heart disease is a leading cause of death related to pregnancy.

Preexisting arrhythmias

Heart palpitations or other heart rate irregularities are arrhythmias. Individuals with a history of arrhythmias can find that their condition worsens with pregnancy.

Exercise

There could be lower resting heart rates in people who are physically active. This can extend to pregnancy.

Anxiety

Anxiety makes the heart of a person beat faster. When they feel their heart beating rapidly, some individuals also become nervous, which may lead to more anxiety.

How to get heart rate into a normal range

Instead of attempting to hit a certain number of BPM, people whose heart rate falls beyond their normal range should reflect on why this occurs. Before attempting to adjust the heart rate, speak to a doctor.

In general, during pregnancy, a healthy lifestyle can help a person stay healthy and can support a normal heart rate.

Exercise

During pregnancy, moderate exercise is typically healthy, but before attempting a new or difficult routine, speak to a doctor.

Many pregnant women need aerobic activity for at least 150 minutes a week.

Try walking, swimming, and other choices that are low-impact. Yoga or stretching will help maintain healthy muscles and decrease aches and pains in pregnancy.

Eat a healthful diet

Chat with a doctor about the right way to feed the body during pregnancy.

Most pregnant people need 2,200–2,900 calories per day. This varies with age, size of the body, level of activity, and other factors.

Heart health can be improved by proteins, fruits , vegetables, and other nourishing foods.

Get proper prenatal care

See a doctor or midwife during the first trimester at least once, and schedule appointments periodically according to the instructions of the healthcare provider.

Regular prenatal care requires cardiac health monitoring which may decrease the risk of having an untreated heart condition.

Manage anxiety and mental health

Anxiety could indeed make the heart beat faster and make pregnancy more tough.

People with anxiety should speak to a doctor, breathe slowly and deeply, and speak to a mental health professional who specializes in prenatal mental health.

When to see a doctor
Regular prenatal visits during pregnancy with a doctor or midwife are essential. Discuss any heart rate changes, and ensure the heart rate and blood pressure measurements are taken by the healthcare provider.

An individual should immediately call 911 or their nearest emergency department if they experiences:

  • chest pain or pressure
  • trouble breathing
  • an intense headache, stomach pain, or sudden swelling in one or both feet or legs
  • sudden high blood pressure

Summary

Heart rate changes are common during pregnancy. The body has to pump more blood and needs to compensate by lowering blood pressure and pumping faster.

These changes are not noticed by some people, but others might find them disturbing or uncomfortable.

They can talk to a healthcare provider if a pregnant person has any signs that appear abnormal.