What is a High-Risk Pregnancy?
A high-risk pregnancy is any pregnancy in which the likelihood of health complications for the mother or fetus are higher than average. Health issues associated with a high-risk pregnancy may be mild or severe which could take place before, during, or after birth.
Having a high-risk pregnancy does not mean that these problems will definitely develop. That said, it is important to remain under a doctor’s care and to follow all instructions you receive from your medical team so the associated risks will be reduced as much as possible.
What Causes a High-Risk Pregnancy?
A high-risk pregnancy may be one in which the mother is younger or older than the average age of childbirth, the mother suffers from a chronic health condition, or certain genetic factors are present.
Other issues can also contribute to a possible high-risk pregnancy. If risk factors are suspected, your doctor can help you by ordering specific tests. Although maintaining a healthy weight and diet and exercising regularly can address some concerns, not all are under a patient’s direct influence.
Some common conditions that can lead to high-risk pregnancy include:
- Blood Disorders
- Kidney Disease
- High Blood Pressure
- HIV or AIDS
- Thyroid Disease
Certain lifestyle factors may also deepen risks or introduce new risks. For example, smoking, drinking alcohol, or engaging in substance abuse can radically increase health risks to both the mother and the unborn child – even if the mother is otherwise healthy.
How Does A High-Risk Pregnancy Affect the Care/Labor Process?
During a high-risk pregnancy, expectant mothers will undergo more testing and see their medical care team more often than during the average pregnancy. You may need to see a specialist in maternal-fetal medicine who can offer specialized care to women with high-risk pregnancies.
Labor during a high-risk pregnancy is somewhat different than in other circumstances. For instance, you will not have the option of a home birth or using a birth center. Specialist care needs to be available at all times, which is only available in a conventional hospital setting.
Induced labor or a C-section are more likely during high-risk pregnancies. In some cases, one or both of these interventions can be used to significantly reduce the overall risks during labor.
Will the Baby Survive?
The specific health risks posed to the baby are different in every high-risk pregnancy. Before, during, and after labor, your doctors will do everything possible to help you ensure that your baby is as healthy as can be. A high-risk pregnancy may entail a variety of different health risks other than death, including birth defects and growth problems.
How to Reduce the Chance of High-Risk Pregnancy
In many cases, it is not possible to directly alter the factors – such as a chronic health condition – that cause a pregnancy to be deemed high-risk. However, you can substantially reduce the risks by seeking appropriate medical care as soon as you know that you are pregnant.
Otherwise healthy adults who wish to minimize the possibility of a high-risk pregnancy should consider abstaining from using alcohol, nicotine products, and any form of illicit drugs. Maintain a healthy weight and engage in regular exercise paired with a healthy diet.
With the appropriate guidance and medical expertise, a high-risk pregnancy can result in safe and comfortable labor – and a promising future for both mother and newborn child.
At Huey & Weprin Ob/Gyn, our team will help you every step along the way to make your high-risk pregnancy as safe and secure as possible. Contact us to learn more.