A high-risk pregnancy requires special care because the mother or baby has an increased possibility of developing health problems. It may be due to various issues, including chronic illnesses. This type of pregnancy essentially requires additional precautions and monitoring throughout the pregnancy, labor and delivery.
What Causes a Pregnancy to Be High Risk?
There are a number of factors that can contribute to a woman having a high-risk pregnancy. Some pregnancies may be deemed a high risk from the very beginning, while others may become high risk as the pregnancy progresses.
Some risk factors are due to underlying conditions. Others are issues that arise during the pregnancy. Some of the known factors that may lead to a pregnancy being high-risk are:
- Being obese or overweight.
- Advanced maternal age of over 35 years old.
- Blood disorders, including sickle cell disease.
- Type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
- Gestational diabetes.
- Thyroid disease.
- Multiple pregnancies when carrying twins or more.
- HIV or AIDS.
- Kidney disease.
- High blood pressure.
- Baby found to have genetic conditions, such as Down syndrome and spina bifida.
- Problems with past pregnancies.
- Poor lifestyle choices such as smoking cigarettes, using drugs and consuming alcohol.
Prenatal Care for High-Risk Pregnancy
The type of care you’ll receive will depend on your individual needs and circumstances. Typically speaking, women with high-risk pregnancies must be seen more often by their OBYGN. Extra care and monitoring are required to ensure the health and well-being of both mother and baby. Some women may also be referred to a maternal-fetal medicine doctor who specializes in care for high-risk pregnancies.
You’ll likely undergo more testing to provide additional monitoring of your health and the baby’s development. This includes more ultrasounds to check on baby’s growth, and additional urine tests to check for conditions like preeclampsia and UTIs.
There are also additional tests that may be advised when you have a high-risk pregnancy. These may include: amniocentesis to check for genetic conditions and neural tube defects; targeted ultrasound to look at specific suspected problems; cordocentesis to look for blood conditions and infections, and chorionic villus sampling to identify a number of genetic conditions.
Labor and Delivery
Your labor and delivery may not be as you planned with a high-risk pregnancy. Hospitals are typically the safest option, and home births are usually not advised. Hospitals have the necessary medical staff and equipment should any complications arise. Speak with your OBGYN about your situation and to ensure you have realistic expectations about your labor and delivery.
Precautions to Take with a High-Risk Pregnancy
If you have a high-risk pregnancy, there are some steps you can take to help make your pregnancy go more smoothly.
- Having a preconception visit with your OBGYN is a great way to begin. It helps ensure that any conditions are known, and special precautions can be taken in advance.
- Be sure to follow your OBGYN’s guidance about staying healthy and caring for your condition.
- Go to all of your scheduled appointments and tests to make sure you’re receiving the extra care and attention you and your baby need.
- Make healthy choices in regard to diet and exercise. Follow your OBGYN’s advice if you’re supposed to be on rest.
- Always communicate openly with your OBGYN at your prenatal visits about any health issues or concerns you have.
Contact Women’s Physicians of Jacksonville
If you’re pregnant or are planning to become pregnant and may be high risk, it’s never too soon to start receiving prenatal care. Schedule an appointment with the compassionate healthcare providers at Women’s Physicians of Jacksonville today. Call (904) 296-2441.