Rheumatic Fever - Women & Pregnancy

Rheumatic Fever - Women & Pregnancy

If you have had rheumatic fever or rheumatic heart disease, you should have a heart check-up before you fall pregnant.

Did you know that when you are pregnant, your heart has to work 50 percent harder all day every day?

The hard work for the heart starts very early in pregnancy and keeps increasing until you are about 7 months pregnant. 10 extra beats a minute doesn't sound very much but that is 14,000 extra beats a day. That's a lot!

If you have had rheumatic fever or rheumatic heart disease, you should have a heart check-up before you become pregnant. Make sure you tell your midwife and doctor that you have had rheumatic fever.

Depending on how badly your heart valves are damaged or if you have had surgery, you may need extra monitoring and sometimes treatment to make sure you and your baby stay healthy throughout the pregnancy.

Women who have had rheumatic fever or rheumatic heart disease may want to have children at some time. You can plan when the time is right for you. Using contraception is the safest way to plan for the right time. It is safe to have penicillin when you are pregnant.

Your family doctor, local family planning clinic and/or cardiologist can talk to you about the best options for you when planning a family.

The Paediatric Society of New Zealand is grateful to the Heart Foundation for providing the content for this page. The booklet 'Rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease' was revised in July 2019.

This page last reviewed 13 May 2020.
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