Whether you’re a first time mom or you’ve been here before, hearing your pregnancy is or will be high-risk can understandably stir up feelings of confusion or fear. But your increased risk of complications means, more than anything, you’ll need extra care — and by engaging in regular monitoring and proactive care, a healthy outcome is possible for both you and your baby.
If you or your baby are at increased risk of health problems before, during, or after delivery, your pregnancy may be considered high risk.
Approximately 20 to 30 percent of pregnancies fall in this category, with some starting at a lower risk and encountering complications as they progress.
What factors can cause a pregnancy to be high-risk?
It’s important to remember that while these factors may have potentially significant effects on the health of you and your baby, consistent care and monitoring are the most beneficial things you can do for yourself and the new addition to your family.
- Pre-existing conditions: When certain medical conditions are present before you conceive, they can increase the potential for pregnancy-related complications. These include diabetes, cardiac concerns, high blood pressure, autoimmune disorders, HIV, cancer, and renal issues.
- Age: If you are under 18 or over 35, the risk of potential pregnancy-related complications increases. However, in spite of being categorized as high risk, many will only have minor concerns.
- Multiples: Women who carry more than one baby are at a higher risk for complications, but with careful monitoring and increased care, most women will have a healthy pregnancy and delivery.
- Weight: Being over or under weight prior to or during your pregnancy can increase the risk of miscarriage, birth defects, gestational diabetes, and hypertension.
- Pre-eclampsia: Also known as toxemia, this common condition causes high blood pressure, protein in urine, and swelling. It tends to develop late in pregnancy and needs careful monitoring to avoid harmful effects on mom and baby.
- Previous pregnancy problem: If you’ve previously given birth to a very large or very small baby, given birth more than four times, had a previous pregnancy loss or preterm birth (birth before 37 weeks gestation), you may be at higher risk for complications.
- Genetic concerns: If you or the father of the baby has a personal or family history of a genetic disorder or birth defect, your baby may be at a higher risk of developing the disorder or defect.
- Lifestyle choices: Smoking, drinking alcohol, and illegal drug use can all put your pregnancy at a higher risk for complications.
More Comprehensive and Coordinated Care
Axia Women’s Health obstetricians are expertly trained and highly experienced in caring for women before, during, and after a high-risk pregnancy. However, if your provider believes additional care is needed during your pregnancy, they may refer to a perinatologist — and obstetrician who specializes in maternal-fetal medicine and cares for mothers and babies during high-risk pregnancies.
Axia Women’s Health also works in partnership with our local hospitals to ensure you and your baby get the expert care you deserve.