My SVT Episode During Pregnancy

I had my first emergency room visit this week and I know what you’re thinking – no, Baby Jacob hasn’t graced us with his presence yet. As much as I wish he would come out right now; I thought I’d share with you what happened because after reading several baby forums this is a common problem that happens to women during pregnancy. Prior to yesterday I had only ever had one episode three years ago of what I now know as a Supraventricular Tachycardia; also known as SVT. I didn’t think too much of it at the time as I had just come home from a boozy day at the races in 30 degree heat and was probably suffering a mild case of dehydration.


In hindsight I probably should have gotten this checked out immediately but because it self corrected and wasn’t a reoccurring issue I brushed it off as a one-off. It’s the typical Helen way of dealing with issues – if it isn’t broke then why fix it? I had never had any known heart issues in the past and frequently do high impact exercise so what could really be wrong with my heart?


Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT)

Supraventricular tachycardia is a rapid heart rate (tachycardia, or a heart rate above 100 beats per minute) that is caused by electrical impulses that originate above the heart’s ventricles.


Signs & Symptoms:

  • A heart rate of 150-270 beats per minute
  • Pounding heart
  • Shortness of breath/Rapid breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness/Light headedness


Supraventricular Tachycardia SVT During PregnancyWhen you become responsible for another life then you can never really be too careful and it was just as well that day that we went to the emergency room to get me checked out because I was diagnosed with SVT. My episode lasted for almost two and a half hours and for a pregnant woman to have a consistent heart rate of 160-180 beats per minute in Aussie Summer heat was not ideal. Walking into the emergency room was confronting to say the least, as I had never really been in one before and on this particular afternoon, it was incredibly busy. Thankfully we only had to wait for fifteen minutes before a nurse triaged me and wheeled me into the resuscitation room for treatment with the doctors.


I got to strip off my brand new Camilla dress that I wanted to show off that day with my huge baby bump and replaced it with one of those delightful hospital gowns that leave your rear end hanging out for the world to see. The whole process in the ward was a bit of a blur but essentially I had about four different nurses and two doctors that hooked me up onto various machines and popping in and out intermittently. They tried a bunch of methods to slow my heart rate before finally settling on the drugs as being the only way to control my heart rate.


They must’ve had an alarm set to go off each time a patient’s heart rate went above 160bpm because it was going off almost every 20 seconds in our cubicle. You’d see nurses ducking their heads in from behind the curtain to check every time the alarm went off – it was all a bit manic. Meanwhile I was trying to keep my left boob from popping out from under the gown because of all the wires coming out from the top of it.

SVT during pregnancy


Here comes the fun part and I say this with an extreme degree of sarcasm because the drug they used was not particularly pleasant – it’s called adenosine. The doctors essentially said that this drug was fast acting but was going to make me feel like sh*t for a few seconds before it starts really work its magic. So what did it feel like? They weren’t kidding when they warned that it would kick in within seconds of injecting it into my IV because I felt a wave come across my chest before seizing every muscle in that entire region.



SVT Episode During PregnancyI spent ages trying to come up with the appropriate words to describe the exact feeling but it felt like a tonne of bricks was coming down onto my chest for 4-5 seconds before easing off. It was after all this magic that the Doc said that some have described the feeling as though they were dying and crossing over to the other side. Imagine if he had led with that line? Ha!


My eyes were popping out of my head at this stage (in an almost comical Looney Tunes way) at what he had just said and the fact that the drug essentially stops your heart for a few moments as it reboots itself to a normal rhythm. I was pretty composed considering the stories he had about others not reacting to the drug so calmly as I did but I did feel like bursting out in tears at a few points.


After all that the episode was under control, Chris said that my heart rate literally went from 170 to 105 within 3 seconds after the drug was administered and that’s where it stayed thankfully. I should also mention that moments before the adenosine we caught a small glimpse of a very elderly old man being wheeled into the resuscitation room whilst a doctor was attempting to revive him. Yep – it wasn’t the best morale booster.


In most cases SVT episodes tend to disappear after a few minutes but if you have this or suspect you may have SVT and it goes on for longer than 15 minutes then get yourself to the doctors! I waited for about two hours before I decided it was too much for me to handle and we rushed to the hospital (running a red light in the process – oops!). The doctors and my obstetrician reassured us that this wasn’t uncommon for women to experience during pregnancy and that there wasn’t any harm to the baby going through one of these episodes. I’m feeling a lot better now and we ended up back at the beach the next day because our afternoon got cut short the other day. 


I’d love to hear if any one else has ever experienced adenosine and how they would describe it because I can assure you, there’s no feeling you’ll ever experience like it.


You can read about why I haven’t enjoyed my pregnancy here and what I’ve learnt about childbirth here now that I am nearing the end of my term. Eek!


Helen Chik is a Sydney based fashion, beauty, travel and lifestyle digital content creator and influencer sharing everything from unique style to her adventures around the world through her rainbow tinted lenses.

  • Thomas Falkenstedt

    Oh Helen, reading this had me really scared and I’m glad you and the rest of your family are ok now. The medicine actually stops your heart for a few seconds? Now THAT is a scary way of rebooting, but I guess they knew what they were doing as it obviously helped. And next time, DON’T wait that long to go to the ER, ok!!! You had me really scared here.
    Much love,

  • Pipesnbuttons

    OMG that is so scary! I’m glad you and the baby are ok. I just had a really bad stomach flu and have been in and out of the bathroom every 10-15 minutes. OMG, it’s been hell and I just found out I may have GD so I have to get additional testing done. I’ve never heard of SVT or had it so far, but I’m glad that you and Jake are ok!!

  • Aww, babe! I wish you all the best, be brave. I’m so glad to hear, that you and the baby are fine. I have no clue about pregnancy whatsoever, so I can’t give you any piece of advice. The only thing I can say, soon you’ll be a mother, which is one of the most important things is life! I wish you all the luck!

    Cheers, Eliza |

  • Amanda N Dustin Smith

    I am so sorry you had to go through this! It must have been really scary for you and your partner! I’d never heard of this condition before. I know what the feeling is like to been in the ER during pregnancy as I went into pre-term labor with my first, right after moving out of state, knowing NO ONE, and my husband was states away for business. It’s an unsettling feeling. Gosh, the sight of the older man, that is one of the many reasons I detest hospital stays. I’m thankful to hear that although scary, you were able to get your heart rate down and it’s nothing too serious!

    Manda |

  • Hey Darling,
    How was Holidays?
    Wish you Happy 2018:)
    OMG…. so sorry to hear Darling and Good to hear that you are and your Family okay…
    I was shocked while I was reading your post:(
    I hope soon you will have your Baby and Everything will be Okay:)
    Love Kisses

  • That is insane! So glad you and the baby are ok. Also tip about those gowns – as for a second so you wear one front to back and the other back to front so you’re totally covered. At least they didn’t have to cut you out of your Camilla dress. My grandmother was taken to the hospital after falling down the stairs but she was most upset by them cutting open her favorite dress to treat her. Take care of yourself mama!

  • Marcy Yu

    First of all Happy New year and I’m glad you and your family are okay! I actually never experience adenosine and never been a mom. But I’ve always been a fan of your work and the fact that you are pregnant and you sharing your experiences have really prepared my self when I’m crossing those steps too. You are such a strong women and such a inspiration to many of us!! We look forward to see baby Jacob soon



    Oh dear you scared me too . I’m a mother of 2 girls but fortunately never experienced this. I’m glad you’re ok now and please take care about you. I can’t wait to see your baby Jacob. Wish you Health Peace and Love.

  • Candace

    I am so thankful it wasn’t something more serious than this Helen! I have never heard of SVT before, but that adenosine sounds pretty scary to say the least. I can’t believe it dropped your heart rate that fast within minutes. I’m so glad you went to the ER to get it addressed and didn’t put it off any longer!

  • jacqueline

    Oh dear. I’m glad you and your family are okay now. I honestly can’t say I’ve ever heard of this before. That sounds really scary. And if there’s anything I’ve learned with health never wait to go get checked!

  • I am glad that you and your baby are fine! To be honest I have never heard something like that. I am a mother of three and I completely understand your feelings about pregnancy. Can’t wait to see your little baby!
    Take care! xo!