A high-risk pregnancy is a pregnancy that poses a greater health risk to the mother, baby, or both due to pre-existing medical conditions or complications.
If you are pregnant, there is a good chance that your doctor has already told you that you are considered to be high risk. This simply means that you have a greater chance of developing complications during your pregnancy than women who are not considered high risk.
While this may sound scary, it is important to remember that most high-risk pregnancies result in healthy babies. In this blog post, we will discuss the various risks associated with high-risk pregnancies and what you can do to reduce your chances of developing complications.
What is a high-risk pregnancy?
A high-risk pregnancy is a pregnancy that poses a greater health risk to the mother, baby, or both. This can be due to various factors, including pre-existing medical conditions, complications during pregnancy, or being pregnant with multiples.
If you have a high-risk pregnancy, it’s important to be under the care of a health care provider who is experienced in managing these pregnancies. In addition, you’ll likely need to be seen more often, and you may need to have special tests or procedures.
Some women with high-risk pregnancies will need to be hospitalized during their pregnancy. This allows for close monitoring of both the mother and baby.
Having a high-risk pregnancy doesn’t mean that you will have complications, but it does mean that you’re at greater risk for them. However, with proper care, most women with high-risk pregnancies go on to have healthy babies.
What causes a high-risk pregnancy?
If you’re pregnant, you may be classified as high risk if you have a medical condition that could complicate your pregnancy. Some common conditions that may put you at high risk include diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), and cardiovascular disease.
If you have a history of preterm labor or delivering a low birth weight baby, you may also be considered high risk. Many other different risk factors can contribute to a high-risk pregnancy. Some of the most common include:
- Being overweight or obese
- Being underweight
- Smoking cigarettes
- Using illicit drugs
- Exposure to harmful substances or substance abuse, such as alcohol or drugs
- Having a history of previous miscarriages or premature births
- Being age 35 or under 17
- Having a chronic preexisting health condition such as diabetes, hypertension, lupus, PCOS, thyroid disorder, fibroids, kidney disease, or blood clotting disorder
- Pregnancy-related health conditions.
If you have any of these risk factors, it’s important to talk to your doctor as soon as possible.
How common is a high-risk pregnancy?
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), about one in four pregnant women have a preexisting health condition that puts them at high risk for complications during pregnancy.
Each year, more than 600,000 women in the United States experience a high-risk pregnancy. Overall, pregnancy-related deaths affect black people three times more frequently than white people.
What are the signs and symptoms of a high-risk pregnancy?
If you have any of the following symptoms during pregnancy, whether or not your pregnancy is considered high-risk, you should immediately contact your doctor:
- Vaginal bleeding
- Severe nausea and vomiting
- Persistent headaches
- Visual disturbances
- Decreased fetal movement
- Abdominal pain that does not subside
- Chest pain
- Exhaustion, dizziness, and restlessness
- Heart palpitations
How is a high-risk pregnancy diagnosed?
There are several ways that a high-risk pregnancy can be diagnosed. One way is through a medical history and physical exam. Your doctor may also order tests, such as ultrasounds or blood tests to check for certain conditions that may put you at risk.
If you have a history of high-risk pregnancies, you may be considered at high risk for future pregnancies as well.
Your doctor will likely recommend more frequent prenatal visits if you have a high-risk pregnancy. You may also need additional tests, such as ultrasounds, to monitor your baby’s growth and development.
You may be referred to a maternal-fetal medicine specialist or a perinatologist, a doctor specializing in high-risk pregnancies.
What are some common complications of high-risk pregnancies?
The risks of a high-risk- pregnancy depend on the underlying condition or conditions that are putting you at risk. Some common potential complications include
- Premature birth
- Low birth weight
- Birth defects
- Preeclampsia or eclampsia
- Cesarean section
- Miscarriage or stillbirth
- Excessive bleeding during childbirth or following delivery.
If you have a high-risk pregnancy, it’s important to follow your doctor’s recommendations for care and to stay as healthy as possible. Eating a nutritious diet, getting regular exercise, and managing stress can help you have a healthy pregnancy.
How is high-risk pregnancy managed?
A team of healthcare providers usually manages high-risk pregnancies. This team may include an obstetrician, a perinatologist (a maternal-fetal medicine specialist), and other specialists, such as pediatricians, genetic counselors, and social workers.
The care plan for a high-risk pregnancy will be individualized and may include more frequent prenatal visits, additional tests and screenings, and closer monitoring of the mother and baby.
If you have a high-risk pregnancy, it is important to follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations and to attend all scheduled appointments. Doing so will help ensure the best possible outcome for you and your baby.
How to prevent a high-risk pregnancy?
There are a few things you can do to help prevent a high-risk pregnancy. First, be sure to see your doctor regularly and get any recommended screenings or tests.
You should also eat a healthy diet, get regular exercise, and avoid smoking and drinking alcohol. If you have any chronic health conditions, be sure to manage them carefully.
Finally, make sure you understand your family history and talk to your doctor about any risks. You can help reduce your risk of a high-risk pregnancy by taking these steps.
Talk to your doctor if you think you may be at risk for a high-risk pregnancy. They can help you understand your risks and make a plan to help keep you and your baby safe.