Congenital Heart Disease in Pregnant Women

About 8 out of 1000 (0.8%) babies are born with heart abnormalities - that is, something is wrong with their heart (also called congenital heart disease or congenital heart disease). About 85% of babies born with heart disorders survive into adulthood and may be able to have children.

If you are born with a heart disorder and have undergone surgery successfully to correct it, that does not mean you are fully recovered. You may have scarring in the heart, which may make you more susceptible to susceptibility or irregular heartbeat. Pregnancy weighs on the heart, and this can provide problems.

Some women whose congenital heart disease is treated when the baby or children do not realize that regular checkups are still important, and may not have visited a cardiologist for years of heart check. Pregnancy adds pressure on the heart, so if you have congenital heart disease, ask for a referral to a cardiologist who is experienced in treating pregnant women with this condition. Do this before you get pregnant, or as soon as you know that you are pregnant.

You will be referred to the maternity unit at the hospital to get a treatment team, and you may be able to go to a maternal cardiac clinic if you are in your area. Ask the general practitioner for details. Congenital heart experts will assess you and plan your treatment.

It is difficult to predict the effects of congenital heart disease in pregnancy because each case is different, but the risk of serious complications in women with congenital heart disease consists of 3 types:

  • Low-risk risk of less than 1 in 100 (most common risk level)
  • Medium-risk risk 1 in 100 to 1 in 10
  • High risk of more than 1 in 10

The only way to estimate risk and determine complications during pregnancy, if any, is to get a thorough assessment of the specialist. It is important to know what problems will arise. Depending on the type of congenital heart disease you experience, you may suffer from fluid buildup in the lungs, heart failure or arrhythmias (irregular and rapid heartbeat).

Influence on your baby

Congenital heart disease can also affect the baby. Babies may be smaller if the mother's heart is not as efficient as it should be, and circulate less oxygen and nutrients to the developing fetus and baby. Babies may be born prematurely. You will be offered a general scan from 26-28 weeks of pregnancy, to ensure that your baby is growing normally and staying healthy.

Depending on the type of congenital heart disease you experience, there is an opportunity that your baby is able to inherit the condition. You must know as much as you can about your condition so that the baby can get special care if necessary at birth. Many disorders can be detected during pregnancy, but not all. Special treatment for pregnancy and baby will be discussed with you, and the cardiologist specialist will advise you on the choices available once the baby is born.


The treatment you receive will depend entirely on the conditions you are experiencing, and the cardiologist will provide a customized antenatal care plan. This may mean that you have to change the medication you are taking. For example, ACE inhibitors are not recommended during pregnancy. During pregnancy, follow the advice of a specialist about handling your condition. Light exercise, such as swimming and walking, is usually good for keeping you in shape, but always talk to your midwife or doctor before starting any new sport.

Labor and birth

Because of the risk of complications, the National Institute for Excellence in Health and Care (NICE) suggests that women with heart disease should give birth at the hospital, supported by the delivery team. Depending on the type and severity of heart disease, induction may not be recommended because prostaglandin drugs that help labor may stimulate the uterus excessively, and medications to restore it should not be given to women with congenital heart disease. It is better to wait for spontaneous labor (labor that starts naturally) if the baby does not have to be born early due to your illness or the baby does not grow normally.

Mothers with congenital heart disease do not need to undergo a C-section. However, you may be advised to give birth without pain, which means you have to be sedated locally in the spine, and your doctor may use a forceps or ventouse to help you during labor because it avoids tension in pushing the baby out.

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