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Lehigh Valley Children's Hospital

Heart Disease and Pregnancy Program

The Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) Heart and Pregnancy Program is the first in the region and one of only a few in the country. It gives you access to a specialized team of high risk pregnancy physicians and heart care physicians working together to care for pregnant women who have heart disease or another heart-related condition.

If you have a heart condition before pregnancy – or you develop symptoms during pregnancy – LVHN offers a special health program just for pregnant women with heart problems. It is our Heart and Pregnancy Program. You’ll find comfort in knowing that we have a team dedicated to this special condition and we’re ready to guide you through pregnancy and delivery safely.

Through our Program, you will be cared for by a high-risk pregnancy specialist (perinatologist) and a cardiology (heart care) specialist. Together, they will evaluate any possible or existing problems, find the right solutions and help guide you to have a successful pregnancy.

Heart problems during pregnancy

Pregnancy can bring fatigue, shortness of breath and a racing heartbeat. While these are often typical pregnancy symptoms, they may also indicate a heart problem. It’s important for women to be aware of the signs and symptoms of heart problems in pregnancy. It is especially important for women who have a preexisting heart condition, are over 40 years old, have high blood pressure, or are overweight.

Symptoms to watch for are:

  • Extreme swelling or weight gain
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Fainting
  • Cough that does not go away
  • Chest pain for fast heart beat
  • Severe shortness of breath

If you’ve experienced any of these symptoms or have a preexisting heart condition, it’s important to contact the Heart and Pregnancy Program before getting pregnant. That way our team can pay close attention to your symptoms to determine if special testing is needed.

Specialists treat cardiac (heart) disease in pregnancy

For some women, pregnancy reveals undiagnosed heart-related conditions, like:

  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia)
  • Abnormal whooshing heart sounds (heart murmur)
  • Valve disease

Whether you learn about or develop a heart problem during pregnancy, the right care is essential. LVHN’s Heart and Pregnancy Program team will:

  • Conduct a complete physical at each visit
  • Perform ultrasounds to ensure your baby has appropriate growth
  • Use echocardiograms to monitor your cardiac heart function
  • Evaluate heart medications – including the potential benefits and risks for both mom and baby – and identify if alternatives are necessary, especially in the first trimester

How heart disease affects labor and delivery

As you near your due date, your team will plan for labor and delivery. They carefully watch IV fluid levels and ensure proper pain relief. When you have a heart condition, you may need assisted vaginal delivery to avoid excessive pushing that can place more stress on the heart. While some women may need a cesarean section, most are able to deliver vaginally.

Following birth, our specialists watch the blood flow to your heart to watch for any significant changes that may indicate a problem.

Care before, during and after pregnancy.

Choose from board-certified obstetricians, maternal fetal medicine specialists, advanced practice clinicians and certified nurse-midwives.

Find a Doctor

Put Your Own Heart First

Lehigh Valley Heart Institute offers the region’s largest women-specific heart program.

Learn more about Women’s Heart Program

High-risk pregnancy care

LVHN offers leading-edge maternal fetal medicine services – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – for high-risk pregnancies.

Learn more