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Heart palpitations are a feeling that your heartbeat is more noticeable. Usually, a person’s heartbeat is not noticeable because the rate is regular and familiar. Therefore, when you do begin to notice your heartbeat, it shows that the rhythm is not the same as usual. When it does happen, though, it can feel a bit scary, especially when you are pregnant. Fear not, however, because heart palpitations are normal during pregnancy, and with good reason. Nevertheless, it is important to get the situation under control, and we’re going to tell you how.
How do you tell you have heart palpitations?
You will ‘feel’ heart palpitations as your heart beating at an irregular pattern. This will sometimes feel like your heart skipping beats, a flopping or fluttering in the chest or your heart beating extremely fast. When these happen, you start to get some symptoms such as:
dizziness and feeling lightheaded
the feeling of your heart pounding harder than it’s supposed to
a very fast heart rate
feeling as if your heart is skipping beats
a flopping or fluttering within the chest
sweating all over
What causes heart palpitations during pregnancy?
Heart palpitations are common during pregnancy because of increased blood volume. When you are pregnant, there is more blood flowing through your body to nourish both you and your baby. Estimate show that blood volume during pregnancy rise’s by as much as 40% as early as the sixth week of the pregnancy because essential body organs are beginning to form. This increases the load on your heart, and it responds by increasing the speed at which it pumps blood.
It is also at this stage that you get morning sickness, breast tenderness, change in appetite and a change in mood. This is caused by changes in hormones, particularly with estrogen and progesterone. This too can lead to heart palpitations during pregnancy. Finally, you may feel anxious or stressed due to the pregnancy, and your body goes into fight-or-flight mode, which can also lead to heart palpitations. Alternatively, taking certain substances like caffeine can lead to palpitations.
What could be the cause of heart palpitations?
In most cases, heart palpitations during pregnancy are not serious because they are just part of the pregnancy process. Some of the common causes have already been described above, and these are common in all women. Nonetheless, it can be a sign of a more serious underlying condition, and that is why you need to see a doctor. If you feel the palpitations even in moments of rest or start to have trouble breathing or chest pain, then you need to see a doctor. Some of these causes could be:
heart damage perhaps from a previous pregnancy
In these cases, your doctor will perform a diagnosis to understand what could be causing the palpitations and the subsequent symptoms. To eliminate some of the more common causes, a complete medical history will indicate whether there has been a history of heart disease in the family. If there was, then this could have been triggered by the pregnancy. For the other possible causes, tests will be done to confirm the thyroid is functioning properly through blood tests. An electrocardiogram will also confirm if the heart’s electrical activity is normal to eliminate arrhythmias.
How do you stop the heart palpitations?
Regardless of whether the palpitations are the result of an underlying condition or just a side-effect of the pregnancy, you still need to get it under control. Of course, this would depend on the initial cause of the palpitations, but medication is rarely prescribed. Often, the palpitations will stop on their own after the baby is delivered and there is no more strain on the heart, and it is only when symptoms are severe that some medication will be prescribed. Meanwhile, some of the strategies one may use could be:
Take a lot of rest
The main cause of heart palpitations during pregnancy is an increased load on the heart. Therefore, to combat this strain on the heart, take it easy. Elevating your feet is a good way to ease the load on your heart because the heart does not have to strain to pump blood all the way up from your feet. With the reduced strain, the palpitations will quickly fade away in a few hours. To prevent the palpitations from happening in the first place, identify the situations that make you stressed. Perhaps it’s your work or family problems, and then try to deal with them calmly without putting your mind in a fight-or-flight situation.
Also, try to practice some relaxation techniques like taking deep breaths whenever the palpitations hit. Because palpitations can be triggered by stressful situations, try your level best to calm yourself down and reduce the stress and anxiety. Some exercises like yoga are also good for this, which is why they may be recommended.
Avoid anything that triggers the palpitations
Certain substances like caffeine are also a common trigger for palpitations because they raise the heart rate. This may be good at giving you a kick to work in the morning, but that may not be good for a pregnant woman. It’s not just the coffee, though, since other drinks like soda also have caffeine. Therefore, try as much as possible to void anything that may trigger the heart palpitations. Also, that some recreational drugs can have an impact on your heart, leading to heart palpitations, so it goes without saying that you should avoid any of those too.
Take enough fluids
Dehydration is also a trigger for heart palpitations during pregnancy, and you should strive to always keep yourself hydrated. If the feeling of nausea keeps you from taking a lot of water, you can still try some water-rich foods like a melon.
Above all, don’t lose heart
Heart palpitations are very common, and in fact, it’s only first-time mothers who get really worried by this while in most cases it’s never serious. If you absolutely wish to speak to a doctor about your symptoms, many clinics offer prenatal care services. They can do different tests while you’re pregnant and determine if the symptoms you are experiencing are normal. Unless you’re experiencing some really nasty symptoms, the best thing to do is relax your body and mind as you wait for the baby to come.
Emma is a passionate writer with a love for health, research, and writing. Therefore, she strives to provide people with educational information for a healthier life.
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