Bakersfield, Calif., May 4, 2023 —Mother’s Day in the United States is May 14, and for all the soon-to-be moms, the American Heart Association says it’s never too early to start prenatal health care to help keep them -- and their babies -- heart healthy.

“Pregnancy is a pivotal time in a woman’s life,” said Erica Manrriquez, M.D., gynecologic oncologist with Dignity Health Medical Group — Bakersfield and volunteer medical expert for the American Heart Association. “Regular prenatal care, post-pregnancy cardiovascular risk factor management if needed, and healthy lifestyle changes can improve the pregnancy and birth experience.” 

Poor heart health puts both mothers-to-be and their children at risk. Heart disease is the leading cause of pregnancy-related death causing more than 1 in 4 pregnancy-related deaths (26.5%), according to the American Heart Association Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics 2022 Update. A study published in 2022 in the Association’s flagship journal, Circulation, found that only about 40% of women in the U.S. who give birth have good heart health prior to their pregnancy with excess weight being the major driver of poor pre-pregnancy health.

Even if a woman isn’t at her healthiest before becoming pregnant, it’s never too late to work on getting healthier for her baby and herself.

A 2019 study in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that improving heart health during the early stages of pregnancy can lead to a healthier pregnancy, as well as improve a woman’s long-term heart health. The study noted the importance of health care providers paying close attention to a woman's heart health during pregnancy and promote lifestyle changes such as a healthy diet and appropriate exercise.

What’s good for mom is also good for baby, according to research presented at the American Heart Association’s 2019 Scientific Sessions. The study found that children are more likely to have good cardiovascular health during adolescence and beyond if their mothers had good heart health during pregnancy.

“The role of a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy cannot be emphasized enough,” Manrriquez said. “Healthy diet, moderate exercise including walking, smoking cessation and other healthy behaviors are important tools for a healthy pregnancy for both mother and child.”

Women who have heart disease or who experience cardiovascular complications during pregnancy should work closely with their health care clinician to monitor their health and take medications as prescribed to treat and reduce cardiovascular risk factors that could follow them through life.

Learn more about having a healthy pregnancy at


About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health, and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century.  Connect with the Kern County office on, Instagram or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1. 

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