Pregnant? 2 Signs of Heart Birth Defects in Fetus

How do you know if your baby has a heart defect while you are pregnant? What are signs of Congenital Heart Disease and Failure in pregnancy? Can it always be detected in utero before birth? No. We can only speculate because ultrasounds cannot detect every birth defect. In my personal experience, this means that you may not know the fetus has a heart condition until delivery. This can be very scary for first time parents and new moms. When I was pregnant, I noticed a few things that seemed out of the ordinary. Although at the time I didn’t realize it, had I known, then I could have addressed it with the OBGYN doctor. Looking back, I’ve realized that there were 2 red flags that my baby was in distressed and something was wrong:

  1. Sudden Weight Gain in 2-3 days that was unexplainable. I suddenly gained 6 pounds in 2-3 days which I could not explain because I’m not an over-excessive eater.  Later on, I’ve realized that this sudden weight gain was due to excess fluid build up in the womb and in my son’s body. He was born with 1.5 pounds of fluid in his body. I’ve learned that with cardiomyopathy, since the heart can’t pump enough blood to the rest of the body, then fluid builds up in the lungs.
  2. Less movement in the womb during my third trimester. Although my baby never stopped moving in my belly, there seemed to be less movement. He was never a wild baby in the womb to begin with though. He passed the kick count every day so I never assumed anything was wrong.

These 2 symptoms occurred during my third trimester. I’ve been told by Pediatric Cardiologists and nurses at Mott Children’s Hospital that most heart birth defects like cardiomyopathy do not develop until the third trimester.

How can you check for a heart defect in your infant? Get a fetal echo. When? Third trimester. Although this test can’t guarantee results, it’s worth checking. Do not expect your local gynecologist to automatically give you this test. You must ask for it. Don’t be surprised if your local OBGYN tries to convince you not to take the test. They may just ‘assume’ and tell you that nothing is wrong with your child.

When talking to other mothers on social media about personal experiences with their own pregnancy, they each had two common factors that correlated with their baby’s heart condition:

  • Less movement of the baby in the belly during the  third trimester
  • Gut instinct

How does your story compare? Do you have anything in common with these mothers? Read their stories:

  • “I remember like two weeks before she was born, I had a huge panic attack, I felt something was wrong with the baby because she hadn’t moved all day, and also just an instinct. I made my husband take me to hospital, they hooked me up to all the monitors and said nothing was wrong..but after she was born, it became obvious by her sluggishness, blue feet, etc. Something was wrong, I definitely thought back to that day.
  • My gut instinct told me something was wrong. He was also very quiet in the womb, but he was huge (8 lbs, 12 oz). I had a non-stress test and it was hard to wake him up. I had to drink juice, walk around, etc.”
  • “I kept saying he was lazy compared to his sisters because he didn’t move much.
  • “I did have a couple of weird things during my pregnancy. I was on a flight when about 11 weeks pregnant and I thought I was having a miscarriage…heavy bleeding. Everything checked out ok though. There were a couple of other odd things that happened to me, only during this pregnancy. But always he seemed fine. He was diagnosed at 4 months old.”
  • “My daughters heart rate jumped up and down a lot. Like the range was 80-180 in the last trimester. She was also hard to get moving. Towards the end it took a lot to wake her and got her kick count. Also I always had this gut feeling something wasn’t right.”
  • “My daughter was not very active in utero. I felt like there was less fetal movement.”
  • “The only thing is an isolated event during my 3rd trimester when her heart rate was above 170.”

Questions about CHD? Do you want to share a personal story to connect with other heart moms and their heart warriors for support in Michigan, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Texas, Ohio, Illinois, West Virginia? Email us 

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