Your body is undergoing a massive change. You’re gaining weight, your birth canal is preparing for labor and your body is undergoing an immense amount of stress. And you’re eating for two, which means you’re hungrier than ever before.
You’ll even crave odd combinations of food.
But the one thing that many first-time moms-to-be don’t prepare for is a high pulse during pregnancy.
It makes a lot of sense when you sit down and think about it, but your emotions are all over the place and you’re pretty confident that something is wrong. The good news is that you’re not crazy: there is no such thing as a normal heart rate during pregnancy.
Everything, including your heart rate, changes when you’re pregnant.
Table of Contents
Your Heart Is Working 25% Faster Than Normal
- Heart palpitations
- Extreme heart beat rate
- Heart fluttering
When a woman is pregnant, as you surely know, her body is supplying the baby with all of the vital nutrients and nourishment it needs. Her body will also be responsible for increasing the amount of blood in the body.
The only way that this blood can increase is through a faster pulse or heart rate.
Your heart will kick into high speed mode, causing you to have a rapid heartbeat. Studies show that a woman’s heart will pump blood faster, causing a 25% rise in heart rate.
And if you want to talk average, there are some statistics that can help:
- Pre-pregnancy heart rates are 70 beats per minute
- Pregnancy heart rates can be 80 – 90 beats per minute
In terms of additional blood pumped by the heart, the cardiac output is increased by a staggering 30% – 50%, meaning your heart is working super fast to try and keep up with the growth of your unborn child.
Tachycardia in Early Pregnancy
You may have tachycardia while pregnant, and this is rather common. When you’re not pregnant, this would constitute a heartbeat that is higher than normal. But when you’re pregnant, your heart rate increases from 70 to as much as 90 beats per minute.
This results in there being no “norm” for a heartbeat.
But this doesn’t mean that the heart rate won’t go into tachycardia. A woman who is pregnant is considered in tachycardia when her heartbeat reaches 100 beats per minute.
If you’re afraid you may be in tachycardia, the symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
There are also extreme situations when the heartrate is so high that the mother faints. This isn’t the norm, but it is possible in severe situations. A woman may also have the sensation of being numb, which isn’t good either.
What Causes Tachycardia?
We know that a high pulse during pregnancy is of no concern, but what causes tachycardia to occur? Your body is supporting the fetus, and your body is working hard day and night, even while you’re asleep.
Your body is under a lot of stress when you’re pregnant.
Tachycardia in late pregnancy is more common than in early pregnancy because everything is changing. Your body will be under immense stress with a growing uterus and baby, added weight, higher bodily fluid levels and the requirement to work even harder.
The good news is that a heart rate that is even near the 100 beats per second range is classified as normal for many pregnant women.
There are other causes that may lead to a higher heart rate, too, such as:
- Stress: A woman will become stressed and overwhelmed during pregnancy. It’s not uncommon for this stress to cause an elevated heartbeat on it’s own, so tie this into your heart already working harder, and it’s easy to see how stress can cause your heart to race even faster above the 100 beats per minute mark.
- Anxiety: Pregnancy has a different impact on different women. One woman may find it to be a relief, but other women may find that the entire ordeal hits them all of a sudden, which causes anxiety and the heart to race.
- Fear: Emotions are running wild, and then all of a sudden you’re overwhelmed with fear. Do you have what it takes to be a mother? Will everything be okay? What happens if the labor process is difficult? Can you really do this? You’ll have so many questions that your heart will race in fear, causing you to be severely overwhelmed at times and raising your heart rate, too.
There’s also a chance that there is an underlying medical condition, such as a thyroid issue, that is causing your heart to work harder. A doctor will run a series of exams to find out the root cause of the problem if it persists.
The good news is that the doctor will likely tell you that nothing is wrong and that this is just a natural part of pregnancy.
While no treatment is necessary in most cases, some women will find that they’re able to relax their hearts by:
If you’re suffering from a high pulse during pregnancy, there are times when you’ll want to consult with your doctor to make sure everything is alright. When should you call your doctor? A few of the times that doctors recommend calling them when your heart rate is too high are:
- Chest pain
- Coughing up blood
- Shortness of breath
Your doctor may need to perform some basic tests to ensure that you’re not suffering from a serious health issue.
The good news is that most women will find that their pulse is elevated, and for the majority of these women, there is no reason for concern. An Interesting fact is that a woman’s heart rate increases during the first trimester.
But during the second trimester, a woman will find that the smooth muscle in the heart relaxes, allowing for easier blood flow.
It’s not until the fourth month that cardiac output really increases. The third trimester will result in an increase of 40% – 90% blood volume circulation, which is between weeks 28 and 35. Don’t worry, at this point, you’re close to labor.