If Your Pregnancy Is Considered High-risk

If your pregnancy is considered high-risk, you may understandably be feeling a bit anxious. A high-risk pregnancy means that you have 1 or more health conditions that could cause serious problems for you or your baby.

Its reassuring to know, however, that because youre in this high-risk category, your healthcare providers will carefully monitor and manage your and your babys healthcare every step of the way. This kind of specialized care helps ensure a successful pregnancy, childbirth and recovery.

In other words, youre in good hands. Be sure to attend all of your scheduled appointments during pregnancy and after your baby is born. These are crucial ways for your doctor or midwife to check on your health and your developing babys wellbeing. And some women in high-risk pregnancies have more frequent prenatal appointments because of this.

What Makes It High-Risk?

Each year, fewer than 10% of pregnancies are classified as high-risk. Among the conditions commonly associated with high-risk pregnancy are:

Hypertension / preeclampsia  High blood pressure in pregnancy can lead to preeclampsiaa dangerous rise in blood pressure with resulting organ damage in the expectant mom.Preeclampsia also disrupts blood flow to the placenta, which can result in small birthweight babies or infants born too early.

Being HIV positive HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) causes AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) and attacks cells in the bodys immune system, destroying your ability to fight infection and certain cancers.

Significantly overweight or underweight  Either can cause preterm labor. Being overweight also puts you at risk for high blood pressure and gestational diabetes.

Gestational diabetes  When not controlled, this type of diabetes (which only occurs during pregnancy) can lead to high blood pressure for mom, a high birth weight and/or temporary (but dangerous) low blood sugar levels for the newborn.

Depression  Clinical depression during pregnancy puts mothers at higher risk for pre-term delivery.

Pregnant under age 17 or over age 35  Either can put a mom at risk for pregnancy complications including high blood pressure and premature birth

Pregnant with multiples  Pregnancy with multiples puts women at higher risk for gestational diabetes, anemia and preterm labor

Previous pregnancy issues These may include having high blood pressure, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, miscarriage or a preterm delivery in a previous pregnancy.

While not every pregnancy complication is preventable, there are things you can do to help protect your and your developing babys health. These include:

  • taking folic acid and prescribed prenatal vitamins
  • frequent hand-washing to help protect against colds, viruses or bacterial infection
  • eating a healthy diet
  • attending prenatal care checkups and tests

Talk with your prenatal healthcare provider about the symptoms, risks and treatment of your high-risk pregnancy. Ask what you can do to protect yourself and your baby to ensure the best possible outcome. And educate yourself on your specific health conditions and how they may affect your pregnancy.

See also ...

High-risk pregnancy factors

Facts on pre-term births

Depression in high-risk pregnancy

Keeping you and your developing baby healthy 

Pregnancy resources 

This message is not intended to provide individual medical advice. Always seek the advice of a physician or qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have about your health or medical condition, your breastfeeding issues and your infant's health. Never disregard, avoid or delay contacting a doctor or other qualified professional because of something you have read in our emails, webpages or other electronic communications.

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