Maintaining a healthy heart during pregnancy is important due to the natural effects pregnancy has on the heart and circulatory system. Since the body is now circulating blood for two people instead of one, changes in blood volume, heart rate and blood pressure may occur. Adopting certain heart healthy habits can help lead to a successful pregnancy and birth.
Loading up on fresh fruits and vegetables is one of the best things a woman can do for her heart and pregnancy. Leafy greens, such as kale, spinach and collard greens are considered a pregnancy power food because they contain essential nutrients. Choose foods with plenty of folic acid and vitamin C, like honeydew, grapefruits, brussel sprouts and broccoli.
Although fatigue is common during pregnancy, make it a habit to exercise regularly to help fight fatigue, reduce stress and sleep better. A new study suggests that exercise during pregnancy can improve a baby’s cardiovascular health after birth. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends women incorporate at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week during pregnancy.
Drinking plenty of water is also an easy way to keep the heart in a good state of health during pregnancy. When pregnant, the body uses water to build new tissue, transport essential nutrients to the growing baby and form amniotic fluid, amongst other important functions. Drinking water also helps the heart pump blood to the muscles. The Institute of Medicine suggests that expectant mothers should drink at least 10 glasses of water each day. Keep a reusable water bottle on hand or snack on water-rich foods like watermelon or cantaloupe, to help you stay hydrated.
The lifestyle changes outlined above are critical for a strong heart. If currently pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant, speak with a health care provider for any questions or concerns regarding cardiac health. Click here to find a provider.