Health Care

A Healthy Start for Your Baby’s Heart

Mother holding up her baby.
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Every healthy decision you make as an expectant mother — from staying active to eating right — strengthens your body, mind and spirit. Because your baby is sharing your body for nine months, each of these decisions helps them, too, especially when it comes to their heart.

Staying Active During Pregnancy Benefits Mom and Baby

The benefits of an active lifestyle to a pregnant mom’s heart and lungs extends to the baby, as better circulation and cardiovascular health can reduce a mom’s risk of these conditions:


A common complication of pregnancy, pre-eclampsia involves high blood pressure and can lead to damage of the mother’s other organs or cause premature birth.

Gestational Diabetes

When women develop high blood sugar during pregnancy, they are said to have gestational diabetes. This can lead to a higher than ideal birth weight, which puts those babies at risk for having blood sugar issues following birth. These babies are also at increased risk for childhood obesity, and the moms are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Benefits of Physical Activity

Staying active isn’t just about avoiding problems for mother and baby, though. It can also have some meaningful benefits:

  • Easier recovery after birth and return to pre-pregnancy fitness
  • Better digestion with less constipation
  • Improved energy and mindset
  • Improved muscle tone
  • Improved sleep
  • Reduced backache and muscle/joint soreness
  • Stamina for labor

Activity doesn’t just mean heading to the gym every day. Simply walking 20 to 30 minutes a day is a great way to get started, while making sure you’re staying well hydrated, especially if you’re walking in the heat.

It’s always recommended that pregnant women talk with their doctor before starting a new exercise routine, walking included.

In addition to getting physical exercise, eating right plays a big role for both the expectant mom and baby.

Using Diet to Help Baby’s Growth

Your baby’s growth in the womb is made possible by the baby’s heart, which is already pumping blood by the seventh week of pregnancy. The baby’s heart helps deliver blood and nutrients throughout its system, promoting healthy development from the first time it beats.

Healthy Foods to Help Baby’s Heart Grow Strong

Help to give your little one a strong and healthy heart by filling your diet with healthy, vitamin-rich foods, and staying away from processed, fatty foods.

Here are some foods pregnant moms should seek out:

  • Skim or low-fat milk
  • Yogurt and cheese
  • Healthy proteins, such as oily fish
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains

Foods to Avoid

Building baby’s heart strength doesn’t mean to just add heart-healthy foods to your diet, though. Pregnant women are also encouraged to cut back on foods that could do damage, such as those high in fat, cholesterol and sodium.

Helping Baby’s Heart All the Way to Adulthood

Sometimes, with no fault to mothers or themselves, babies’ hearts don’t grow quite right in the womb, and they need special care and attention as they grow. So, as a pregnant woman, even if you make all the best, healthy choices during pregnancy, there is still a small chance your baby could develop a heart defect.

What Are Congenital Heart Defects?

Congenital heart disease is the term used to describe the variety of heart defects that a baby could be born with and carry with them into adulthood. A congenital heart defect is any heart abnormality that a baby develops in the womb, usually during the first eight weeks of pregnancy.

The heart develops in a series of steps, and problems can occur when one of these steps doesn’t happen at the right time. It could mean instead of a dividing wall in the heart, there’s a hole, or where two blood vessels should be, there’s only one.

Congenital heart defects are the most common birth defect and, most importantly, they’re treatable with the compassionate care offered every day at AdventHealth for Children.

Do Congenital Heart Defects Heal on Their Own?

Congenital heart problems can be simple or complex, and they might heal on their own or, in many cases, need treatment. A baby’s doctor may monitor the heart’s growth and prescribe medicines as needed. Other babies may need surgery, sometimes as soon as in the first few hours after birth.

In some cases, a baby may grow out of some of the simpler heart problems, such as patent ductus arteriosus or an atrial septal defect. These defects may simply close up on their own as the baby grows. Other babies might have a combination of heart problems and require several operations throughout their lives.

It’s so important that you’re taking your child for regular wellness checks at every stage of life, just in case something serious is happening that may not be immediately noticeable by you or your child. With early detection and treatment, a child with a heart defect has a much greater chance at living a long, full life.

A Team of Heart Specialists, Dedicated to Your Child’s Care

Our team of OB/GYN experts will make sure they’re helping look after your baby’s heart during development. And for babies who have congenital heart problems, they can receive the treatment they need from pediatric specialists. These doctors diagnose heart defects and help children stay healthy before and after surgery for congenital heart disease.

But it’s not just babies who live with congenital heart disease. Many American adults have this condition, too. It’s important for anyone born with congenital heart disease to transition to the appropriate cardiac care, depending on the type of disease they have and its severity. At any age, managing congenital heart disease is possible with the right care.

We’re Here to Help Your Baby Grow Up Healthy

From before a diagnosis to well beyond, we’re here for you and your family. We know that taking the best care of your baby starts with taking the best care of yourself. Our health navigators are here to make your lives easier by navigating your healthcare journey for you, including finding the best doctor and scheduling appointments for you and your baby.

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