Heart rate during pregnancy is one of the many issues that women should be aware of during the natal period. Pregnant women’s bodies need more blood, requiring a more rapid heartbeat. This need is not only to accommodate the mother’s increased metabolic systems, but also to supply oxygen-rich blood to the baby through the placenta.
Heart rate is the amount of beats, or contractions, your heart experiences within one minute. The main way to calculate the heart rate is called a pulse. During pregnancy, according to The Merck Manual, “The amount of blood pumped by the heart (cardiac output) increases by 30 to 50%. As cardiac output increases, the heart rate at rest speeds up from a normal rate of about 70 beats per minute to 80 or 90 beats per minute.”
In normally functioning circulatory processes, the heart is used to pump oxygen-rich blood into the body. By way of the circulatory system, the used or deoxygenated blood is then returned to the lungs for reoxygenation and pumped back into the system. Without this process, the muscles, organs and tissues of the body become necrotic and die from asphyxiation. A pregnant woman’s heart rate is therefore required to beat more often in order to fulfill the larger capacity of the circulatory system and the growing fetus.
Daily monitoring of heart rate during pregnancy ensures good health practices for mother and baby. One method is to track the average daily heart rate by taking the pulse for one minute and recording the number. At the end of the day, divide the total of all beats by the amount of times the pulse was taken. This average number serves as a baseline and helps signal any possible issues if it should sharply change in either direction.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACoG), exercise is not only healthy but is recommended during pregnancy. Moderate exercise for 30 minutes a few times per week is optimum. ACoG also instructs new exercisers to start at five minutes and increase their exercise time by five-minute increments, until they are able to reach the full 30 minutes. Pregnant women who have been exercising can continue their regular routine as long as there is no chance of contact with or impact to the body.
All pregnant women should get their doctor’s approval before exercising or raising their heart rate to any level. Also, if there is a history of medical conditions or prior pre-term labor, restrictions will be necessary. Although there is no specific heart rate restriction, pregnant women who exercise should be able to comfortably carry on a conversation at the same time. Without these precautions, risks such as dehydration or overheating could occur.
- pregnant woman image by Frenk_Danielle Kaufmann from Fotolia.com
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.