Pregnancy is a time for joy. But when you?re facing the risk of complications, anxiety, fear and uncertainty can take over. The term high-risk pregnancy does not in any way mean that you?re destined to have problems with your pregnancy. In fact, the majority of women who have so-called high-risk pregnancies go on to have problem-free pregnancies and give birth to healthy babies.
A high-risk pregnancy results when some condition puts the mother
or the developing fetus, or both, at an increased risk for
complications during or after pregnancy and birth. A high-risk
pregnancy can be stressful. A high-risk pregnancy might pose
challenges before, during or after delivery. If you have a high-risk
pregnancy, you and your baby might need special monitoring or care
throughout your pregnancy.
Many things can put you at high
risk. Being called "high-risk" may sound scary. But it's
just a way for doctors to make sure that you get special attention
during your pregnancy. Your doctor will watch you closely during your
pregnancy to find any problems early. The conditions listed below put
you and your baby at a higher risk for problems, such as slowed
growth for the baby, preterm labor, preeclampsia, and problems with
But it's important to remember that being
at high risk doesn't mean that you or your baby will have problems.
As many as 10 percent of pregnancies are considered high risk, but
with expert care, 95 percent of these special cases result in the
birth of healthy babies.Specific factors that
might contribute to a high-risk pregnancy include:
Advanced maternal age. Pregnancy risks are higher for mothers age 35
and older and younger than 17.
cigarettes, drinking alcohol and using illegal drugs can put a
pregnancy at risk.
3) Medical history. A prior C-section, low
birth weight baby or pre-term birth - birth before 37 weeks of
pregnancy - might increase the risks for subsequent pregnancies.
Other risk factors include a fetal genetic condition, a family
history of genetic conditions, a history of pregnancy loss or the
death of a baby shortly after birth.
4) Underlying conditions.
Chronic conditions ? such as diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer,
Kidney disease and epilepsy - increase pregnancy risks. A blood
condition, such as anaemia, an infection or an underlying mental
health condition also can increase pregnancy risks.
Pregnancy complications. Various complications that develop during
pregnancy pose risks, such as problems with the uterus, cervix or
placenta, or severe morning sickness that continues past the
first trimester. Other concerns might include too much amniotic fluid
(polyhydramnios) or too little amniotic fluid (oligohydramnios),
restricted fetal growth or Rh (rhesus) sensitization - a
potentially serious condition that can occur when your blood group is
Rh negative and your baby's blood group is Rh positive.
Multiple pregnancy. Pregnancy risks are higher for women carrying
twins or higher order multiples.
7) Overdue pregnancy. You
might face additional risks if your pregnancy continues too long
beyond the due date.
8) Your baby has been found to have a
genetic condition, such as Down syndrome, or a heart, lung, or kidney
9) You have had three or more miscarriages.
You had a problem in a past pregnancy, such as preterm labor,
preeclampsia or seizures and having a baby with a genetic problem,
such as Down syndrome.
11) You have an infection, such as HIV
or hepatitis C. Other infections that can cause a problem include
cytomegalovirus (CMV), chickenpox, rubella, toxoplasmosis, and
Other health problems can make your pregnancy a
high-risk. These include heart valve problems, sickle cell disease,
asthma, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis. Talk to your doctor before
if you have any health problems before conceiving.What
types of doctors are recommended for a high-risk pregnancy?
women will see a doctor who has extra training in high-risk
pregnancies. These doctors are called maternal-fetal specialists, or
perinatologists. You may see this doctor and your regular doctor. The
specialist may be your doctor throughout your pregnancy.To
have a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby you must consider the
- Go to all your
doctor visits so that you don't miss tests to catch any new
- Eat a healthy diet that includes
protein, milk and milk products, fruits, and vegetables.
- Take any medicines, iron, or vitamins that your doctor prescribes.
- Take folic acid daily. Folic acid is a B
- Follow your doctor's instructions for
physical activity and exercise.
- Do not smoke.
Avoid other people's tobacco smoke.
- Do not
- Stay away from people who have
colds and other infections.
What else do I need to
know about high-risk pregnancy?
Consult your health
care provider about how to manage any medical conditions you might
have during your pregnancy and how your health might affect labor and
delivery. Ask your health care provider to discuss specific signs or
symptoms to look out for, such as Vaginal bleeding, persistent
headaches, pain or cramping in the lower abdomen, watery vaginal
discharge, regular or frequent contractions, decreased fetal
activity, pain or burning with urination and changes in vision,
including blurred vision.
Talk to your clinic and specialist
about the conditions in which you should contact them and when to
seek emergency care. A high-risk pregnancy might have ups and downs.
It is always best to stay positive and take steps to promote a
healthy pregnancy. Your pregnancy requires extra-special care, so
follow your doctor?s orders and try to relax. Thanks to advances in
medical technologies and good prenatal care, you are more likely than
ever to have a healthy pregnancy, delivery, and baby.