Heart rate normally increases during pregnancy, as the body works to pump blood to the organs and placenta.
Many pregnant people also experience a drop in blood pressure, especially in early pregnancy.
There is a wide range of normal heart rates in pregnancy. Knowing a person’s prepregnancy heart rate may help predict their typical pregnancy heart rate.
There is no standard definition of a pregnancy heart rate that is too high or too low. Instead, doctors look at a person’s baseline heart rate and how their heart rate changes over time.
A 2019 meta-analysis looked at heart rate increases in 36,239 pregnant people. The authors found the average heart rate increase was around 10%, or 7–8 beats per minute (BPM).
The study also found that the average heart rate rises steadily through pregnancy. At 10 weeks, the average heart rate was 79.3 BPM. By 40 weeks, the average rate was 86.9 BPM.
A person’s heart rate during pregnancy may be higher or lower than these figures if their prepregnancy heart rate is higher or lower.
Brief heart palpitations and slight changes in pregnancy heart rate are common. A 2007 study emphasizes that while these changes in heart rate can signal a heart problem in rare cases, most are harmless.
A person’s heart rate might not fall into the average range during pregnancy for a few reasons.
Abnormal starting heart rate
People with low or high resting heart rates may experience pregnancy heart rates that are also outside of the normal range.
Sometimes, changes in heart rate signal a problem with the heart’s electrical system, a blocked artery, or other heart health problems.
Heart health issues are more common during pregnancy. Heart disease is a leading cause of pregnancy-related death.
People who are physically active may have lower resting heart rates. This can extend to pregnancy.
Anxiety makes a person’s heart beat faster. Some people also become anxious when they notice their heart is beating quickly, which can lead to more anxiety.
People whose heart rate falls outside their normal range should focus on why this happens, rather than trying to reach a particular number of BPM. Talk to a doctor before trying to change the heart rate.
In general, a healthful lifestyle may help a person remain healthy during pregnancy and can support a normal heart rate.
Moderate exercise is usually safe during pregnancy, but talk to a doctor before trying a new or difficult routine.
Try walking, swimming, and other low-impact options. Yoga or stretching may help support healthy muscles and reduce pregnancy aches and pains.
Eat a healthful diet
Talk to a doctor about how best to nourish the body during pregnancy.
Most pregnant people need 2,200–2,900 calories per day. This varies with age, body size, activity level, and other factors.
Proteins, fruits, vegetables, and other nourishing foods can help protect the heart.
Get proper prenatal care
See a doctor or midwife at least once during the first trimester, then schedule appointments regularly according to the healthcare provider’s recommendations.
Regular prenatal care involves monitoring heart health and can reduce the risk of developing an untreated heart issue.
Manage anxiety and mental health
Anxiety can make the heart beat faster and make pregnancy more difficult.
People experiencing anxiety should talk to a doctor, practice slow and deep breathing, and speak with a mental health counselor specializing in prenatal mental health.
It is important to have regular prenatal visits with a doctor or midwife during pregnancy. Discuss any changes in heart rate, and make sure the healthcare provider takes heart rate and blood pressure readings.
A person should call 911 or their nearest emergency department immediately if they experience:
- 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
Heart rate changes during pregnancy are normal. The body has to pump more blood and compensates by lowering blood pressure and pumping faster.
Some people do not notice these changes, but others could find them alarming or uncomfortable.
If a pregnant person has any symptoms that seem abnormal, they should speak to a healthcare provider.