The very process of making a new human being is a complicated one. And with all the pains that come along with pregnancy, there are some of us who happen to be at higher risk of health issues for the baby, or for herself.
These are called high-risk pregnancies and are typically monitored a lot closer during the whole baby-making process, to prevent any health complications for Mom or baby.
If you have been diagnosed as a high-risk pregnancy, or you fear you may have one in the future, then you should be informed on all the causes, risks, and Dos and Don’ts that come along with a high-risk pregnancy. Here are some things you should know:
1. Medical conditions
There are many different contributing factors that can cause a high-risk pregnancy. Your medical history can play a huge part. If you have any of the following conditions, then you may have a high-risk pregnancy:
- Sickle cell anemia, or other blood disorders.
- HIV/AIDS or other STDs.
- Thyroid disease.
- Type 1 or 2 diabetes.
- Maternal age.
- Depression and anxiety.
2. Environmental triggers
Just as there are many types of medical conditions that can cause a high-risk pregnancy, there are also outside factors to consider. If you lead an unhealthy lifestyle, via smoking cigarettes, or drinking, then you and your baby could be at higher risk, particularly if you’re doing these things while pregnant.
Other factors that can play a part in high-risk pregnancies is your surgical history, and even your genetic history.
3. Other risk factors
Even if you’re completely healthy, when you get pregnant, there is always a chance for you to develop pregnancy complications, such as preeclampsia or gestational diabetes. This risk gets higher if you are carrying multiples (twins, triplets, etc).
4. How does a High-Risk pregnancy effect my pre-natal care?
As I mentioned earlier, a high-risk pregnancy means you will be making more frequent trips to your doctor, to monitor the health and development of the mother and baby. You may also be required to be on bed rest, if your doctor deems it necessary.
All of this is dependent on your condition, and you may even be referred to a MFM (maternal-fetal medicine) doctor if your condition is more severe.
5. Promoting a healthy pregnancy
Luckily, there are ways you can reduce the chance of having a high-risk pregnancy. It is all about being prepared:
Schedule a preconception visit with your doctor. If you’re planning on getting pregnant, it’s best to talk with your doctor. Your doctor will advise you on all you need to not only get pregnant, but to maintain a healthy pregnancy.
Become well-informed on any conditions you may have. This is important, because there is no such thing as being too prepared, especially if you think you might have a high-risk pregnancy.
Get regular prenatal care. Make regular visits to your doctor to monitor yours, and your baby’s health.
Get up-to-date on any vaccinations, if you are behind on any. If you are not properly immunized, you could be susceptible to a variety of different preventable diseases that could harm yourself and your baby.
Get 400 micrograms of folic acid daily, before and during your pregnancy.
Maintain a healthy diet. Along with folic acid, your body will also need extra protein, calcium and iron. A prenatal vitamin will assist in filling in any gaps.
Stay physically active. Take daily walks, and do light work-outs at the gym.
Avoid unhealthy substances (cigarettes or alcohol). Not only can these substances be harmful to your health, they can hinder your ability to get pregnant, and do a lot of harm to your unborn child if you do get pregnant.
Gain a healthy amount of weight. Your body will need the extra weight to handle the strains of pregnancy and is beneficial to your baby’s health.
Consult with your doctor about what your ideal weight should be to support this pregnancy.
6. How does a High-Risk pregnancy effect labor?
High-risk pregnancies can result in problems during labor. Preterm labor is one of the more common risks in a high-risk pregnancy, especially if you are carrying multiples. This can happen because there could be too much amniotic fluid around the baby/babies, or other medical conditions can play a factor in preterm labor.
If your condition is too severe, your doctor may decide to induce labor, to prevent any further risks to your health, or the baby’s health. Another thing to consider is that your condition may make it risky to give birth vaginally.
If you were hoping for a home birth, or a birth at a nice birthing center, then it is highly unrecommended, or completely out of the question for a high-risk pregnancy. For safety purposes, giving birth in a hospital is a better and safer option for mom and baby.
7. Other things to consider
If you feel you may have a high-risk pregnancy, due to any pre-existing medical conditions, or genetic health risks, making an appointment with a MFM Doctor before getting pregnant could be beneficial.
MFM doctors can provide counseling, and management skills, and even predict how your condition might affect any future pregnancies. It is best to stay in constant contact with your doctors, OB/GYN or MFM or both, throughout the entire pregnancy.
As a side note, it is also important to build up a strong support system in your partner, friends and family, as depression and anxiety can influence your pregnancy.
In conclusion, high-risk pregnancies can sound incredibly scary but, with our medical technology today, it does not necessarily have to mean disaster in the future. It is important not to let the diagnosis freak you out too hard. The added stress isn’t going to be good for the baby, or for yourself.
While no one can promise you will have a successful pregnancy, being mindful and well-informed of your condition, and taking every step necessary to ensure a healthy pregnancy, can make all the difference in the world.