A heart condition during pregnancy requires specialized care. The Penn Medicine Pregnancy and Heart Disease Program brings together experts in high-risk pregnancies and women’s heart health. We care for pregnant women, as well as women planning to conceive. Our dedicated services help protect your heart health and your unborn baby.
Who Benefits From the Penn Medicine Pregnancy and Heart Disease Program?
Your heart works harder during pregnancy. When you’re expecting, your heart circulates more blood to support your growing baby.
This extra heart strain can be a problem if you have a known heart condition. Some women develop a heart problem for the first time during pregnancy.
If you have a heart problem, you have a high-risk pregnancy. We work to keep you safe with dedicated care from our pregnancy and heart disease care team.
Penn Medicine Pregnancy and Heart Disease Program: Why Choose Us?
At Penn Medicine, you see a high-risk pregnancy doctor and a heart specialist (cardiologist) from the Women’s Cardiovascular Health Program during the same appointment. These experts work together to manage heart conditions before, during and after pregnancy.
Our services include:
- Medication advising: We meet with you before you become pregnant to establish a healthy pregnancy plan. You may continue your current medicines, or we may advise changing to a drug that’s safer to take during pregnancy. Our combined expertise helps minimize pregnancy risks for women with complex medical needs.
- Preconception counseling: If you need help starting a family, we partner with Penn Fertility Care. If you want to avoid pregnancy, we work with specialists at the Pregnancy Early Access Center (PEACE). These experts specialize in birth control options and family planning services for women with complex heart conditions and other medical needs.
- Help for complex medical problems: If other doctors tell you a heart condition makes pregnancy too risky, we can assess your unique situation and help you understand the concerns. We help you make an educated decision for you and your family. Women who are unable to continue a pregnancy due to health risks receive compassionate abortion care through PEACE.
- Prenatal heart procedures: We have the expertise to conduct heart imaging tests, such as echocardiograms, stress tests, MRIs and CT scans, that won’t harm your unborn baby. We also perform heart procedures, such as catheterizations and ablations, during pregnancy.
- Medication counseling: After childbirth, we find a birth control method that doesn’t increase your risk of blood clots, stroke or heart problems. We also know which medications are safe for breastfeeding babies.
- Telehealth appointments: In-person appointments take place at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP). New and established patients may also schedule telehealth appointments. You don’t have to be a patient of a Penn OB-GYN to participate in our program. Check with your health insurer about coverage.
Heart Health Services During Childbirth
During childbirth, blood flow and blood pressure fluctuate, which puts strain on your heart. But a heart condition doesn’t necessarily mean you need a cesarean section. Each woman’s situation is unique. If needed, we may use techniques to shorten the time you push during labor to ease stress on your heart.
We’re at your side when it’s time to bring your baby into the world. You can feel confident knowing that we have:
- Dedicated delivery rooms: You give birth in a room equipped with the latest heart monitoring technology. We monitor your heart health — and your baby’s — throughout labor and delivery.
- Obstetric anesthesiologists: These care team members have advanced training in providing pain relief for pregnant women with heart problems. They expertly choose heart-safe medications.
- Fully equipped recovery rooms: You and your new family recover in a room that allows us to monitor your heart remotely. We’re there in an instant if a problem arises.
Postpartum Heart Care
We follow your heart health for six weeks after you deliver to ensure problems don’t develop. After that, you may choose to receive care at the Women’s Cardiovascular Health Program.
If your blood pressure is high after giving birth, you can track your recovery through the Heart Safe Motherhood Program. This program enables us to monitor your blood pressure remotely while you and your baby rest comfortably at home.
Preeclampsia and gestational diabetes (diabetes that develops during pregnancy) make you more prone to heart problems later in life. To prevent problems or catch them early, the Women’s Cardiovascular Health Program provides ongoing screenings and care. We help you make heart-healthy lifestyle changes to ensure you’re around for your family for a very long time.
Heart Conditions We Treat
We provide preconception and pregnancy care for women who have:
Request an Appointment
To request an appointment, please call 800-789-7366 or complete our online form.