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    Pregnancy Journey

    How to check pulse rate during pregnancy?

    Written on 15 June 2022

    Introduction

    Pregnancy is a beautiful phase in a woman's life. Expectant mothers experience many changes in their minds and bodies as there are two lives in one. Hormonal changes result in physical alterations such as changes in cardiac function, exhaustion, frequent urination, nausea, and vomiting. There also are a lot of psychological effects associated with these changes.

    Pregnancy and cardiac function

    The cardiac function of an expecting mother significantly alters while she is carrying. Heart rate, cardiac output, and blood volume are all affected. When you are pregnant, your heart has to work harder because the heart has to pump more blood to your uterus as the fetus grows. The uterus receives one-fifth of your pre-pregnancy blood flow towards the end of the pregnancy.

    A non-pregnant woman's heart rate or pulse rate should be between 60 and 100 beats per minute—however, the pulse rate rises by 15 to 20 beats per minute on average during pregnancy. The majority of this rise occurs in the first trimester and continues throughout the pregnancy. The amount of blood pumped by the heart, also called cardiac output, rises by 30 to 50%. At 30 weeks into the pregnancy, cardiac output begins to decrease gradually.

    However, during childbirth, cardiac output increases by another 30%. Postpartum, cardiac output drops quickly at first, then slowly. Approximately six weeks following delivery, the cardiac output returns to pre-pregnancy levels.

    How to check pulse during pregnancy?

    There are at least four ways for you to check your pulse rate without the assistance of a monitoring device. The four methods are as follows:

    1. The radial pulse method:

    The radial pulse method involves the feeling of the blood pumping through your radial artery, which is situated in your wrist. It is the easiest method.

    • The first step is to locate your radial artery. This is done by placing your pointer and middle fingers directly below the thumb inside your opposite wrist.
    • Secondly, you should avoid checking your pulse with your thumb since the artery in your thumb can make it difficult to count precisely.
    • Count how many beats you feel in 15 seconds once you can feel your pulse.
    • To calculate your heart rate, multiply this value by four. For example, a heart rate of 80 beats per minute equals 20 beats in 15 seconds.

    2. The carotid pulse method:

    The carotid pulse method involves feeling your blood pumping through your carotid artery located in your neck region. This method shows you how to check your pulse in the neck.

    • As always, the first step is to locate the right artery. Place your pointer and middle fingers right below the jawbone on the side of your windpipe. You may need to move your fingers around until you can feel your heart pounding clearly.
    • For 15 seconds, count the pulses you feel.
    • To calculate your heart rate, multiply this value by four.

    3. The pedal pulse method:

    The pedal pulse is checked from the top of your foot.

    • First, lie down on your back if you cannot bend down to check your pulse in a seated position.
    • Place your index and middle fingers just above the bone that runs down the top of your foot. You may need to move your fingertips along the bone or slightly to either side to feel the pulse.
    • After you've found your pulse, count the beats for 15 seconds.
    • Multiply the number by four.

    4. The Brachial pulse method:

    This method involves checking your pulse from the brachial artery.

    • Turn your arm such that your inner arm is looking up toward the ceiling and your outer arm is slightly bent.
    • Between the crook of your elbow on top and the sharp section of your elbow bone on the bottom, place your index and middle fingers along the side of your arm. Then move your fingers up your arm 1 inch. To feel your pulse, you may need to press down hard.
    • Count the number of beats for 15 seconds once you feel your pulse
    • Multiply the number by 4.

    Conclusion

    Although it is true that your heart rate increases by 15 to 20 beats per minute, it is vital to ensure that no limits are crossed, even the new heart rate has an upper limit and a lower limit which are ideal for your body to sustain. Anything above or below these limits could be unhealthy and could indicate how close you are to your delivery or even of unfavourable health conditions. This can be done by checking your pulse rate. Your pulse rate could give you a good idea about your overall health. Make sure you know how to check your pulse rate by yourself if the need arises.

    References

    Pulse Rate Changes During Pregnancy | livestrong

    How to Check Heart Rate: 5 Methods and What Is Normal (healthline.com)

    A Mother’s Heart — Inspire Chiropractic

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