Pregnancy is a natural stress test on the heart. Why? As soon as a woman becomes pregnant, many changes begin in the body, including a dramatic rise in blood flow and extra workload on the heart. These are all healthy and normal parts of helping to nourish the growing baby, and most moms-to-be won't have any heart troubles during pregnancy.
But for a growing number of women, pregnancy may bring about new – often temporary – spikes in blood pressure or blood sugar levels.
These conditions typically return to pre-pregnancy levels soon after childbirth. But having them at all has been linked to a greater chance of developing heart disease, future high blood pressure and diabetes later in life.
In addition, it seems preterm birth (having a baby before 37 weeks of pregnancy) may be a red flag for future heart issues and stroke. Also, if you delivered a small baby, known as small for gestational age (in the lowest 10th percentile), you are at a greater risk for heart disease as well.