Having a baby is a natural process. A woman conceives and after a full-term pregnancy (9 months), she goes into labor on or near her due date and gives birth to a healthy baby.
She leaves the hospital in a day or two and begins her day-to-day life with her new born and family. But not all pregnancies go smoothly. Some women experience what doctors refer to as a high-risk pregnancy.
What is high risk pregnancy?
A pregnancy is considered high-risk when there are potential complications that could affect the mother, the baby, or both. High-risk pregnancies require management by a specialist to help ensure the best outcome for the mother and baby.
Some pregnancies become high risk as they progress, while some women are at increased risk for complications even before they get pregnant for a variety of health or lifestyle related reasons. Early and regular prenatal care helps many women have healthy pregnancies and deliveries without complications.
Who is at risk of high risk pregnancy?
- The age of the expecting mom is very crucial. Women above 40 years of age go through high risk pregnancy.
- Conditions such as high blood pressure; lung, kidney, or heart problems; sexually transmitted diseases (STDs); or chronic infections such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) can present risks for the mother and/or her unborn baby.
- A history of miscarriage, problems with a previous pregnancy, or a family history of genetic disorders also includes in risk factors for a high-risk pregnancy.
- Smoking, street drugs and alcohol consumption.
- Incompetent cervix, small pelvis.
- Poor prenatal care.
- Preeclampsia/ eclampsia.
- History of tuberculosis.
- Family history of diabetes.
Do multiple fetuses also a case of high risk pregnancy?
Being pregnant with more than 1 baby is exciting. It is often a happy event for many couples. But multiple fetuses have higher risks for complications. There is high chance of preterm labor and birth. Gestational blood pressure and gestational diabetes are common. Anemia is more than twice as common in multiple pregnancies as in a single birth. The umbilical cord for the twins that share amniotic sac can become tangled up. In these cases, the fetuses may need to be monitored often in the third trimester.
How to treat high risk pregnancy?
Consultation with obgyn and specialist doctor and planning before pregnancy is very important for women with pre-existing medical conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, lupus, and psychiatric illnesses.
High-risk pregnancy specialists often work closely with other specialists (such as cardiologists, gastroenterologists, and psychiatrists) to make adjustments to a woman’s medications prior to and during pregnancy. They also recommend key nutritional supplementation and lifestyle changes to help reduce risks during pregnancy.
During high-risk pregnancy, main concerns are about the development of the baby in the womb along with the health condition of the expecting mother. In high-risk pregnancy specialists track the baby’s development and may provide treatment to support the baby’s developing systems. In some cases, they may be able to correct certain conditions before the baby is born.
Doctors follow various treatments based upon the health condition. The medication and lifestyle changes are suggested by the health care provider so as to have a healthy pregnancy.
- Urine sampling is done to check for urine tract infections.
- Umbilical blood sampling is a diagnostic prenatal test that can identify certain genetic disorders, blood conditions and infections.
- Ultrasound scans are done to measure the length of your cervix at prenatal appointments to determine if you're at risk of preterm labor.
- Amniotic fluid is withdrawn from the uterus after week 15 of pregnancy. The test (amniocentesis) can identify certain genetic conditions, as well as neural tube defects - serious abnormalities of the brain or spinal cord.
- Target ultrasound scan is done to identify any developmental abnormalities.
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. Look out for the symptoms like:
- Vaginal bleeding
- Severe headaches
- Watery vaginal discharge in a gush or a trickle
- Regular or frequent contractions - a tightening sensation in the abdomen
- Decreased fetal activity
- Pain or burning with urination
- Frequent dizziness or blurred vision
Never take any type of major discomfort for granted and contact your doctor for emergency care. A high-risk pregnancy might have ups and downs. Do your best to stay positive as you take steps to promote a healthy pregnancy.
Also read: Understanding High Risk Pregnancy Conditions