Have you been diagnosed with a high risk pregnancy? If so, it can be alarming, especially if this is your first time to be pregnant. However, don’t let that news cause you undue concern. Modern medicine has made it possible for high risk mothers to give birth to very healthy babies. It just takes a little education, preparation, and attention to detail.
Before we continue with how to manage your high risk pregnancy, let’s outline some of the most common causes that lead to pregnancies that are deemed “high risk” by the medical establishment:
• Age: Anyone who is younger than 17 or older than 36 is considered high risk.
• Chronic diseases. If you are already diagnosed with a disease or serious medical condition, such as Type 1 Diabetes, you will be watched more carefully.
• Pregnancy-related hypertension. High blood pressure is a serious risk to your health and the baby’s.
• Placental issues. The placenta is critical for the baby’s health. Any abnormalities or complications are monitored carefully.
• Eclampsia/preeclampsia. Occurs most often in first-time pregnancies and women 40+ years of age.
• History of pre-term labor. The closer you can get to full-term, the healthier your baby will be.
• Multiples. Whenever a woman is pregnant with multiple babies, her pregnancy is monitored more carefully.
What do I do if my pregnancy is considered high risk?
Typically, high risk pregnancies are treated similarly to a normal pregnancy, but with much more regular monitoring and stricter recommendations.
1. Pre-natal care. It is imperative that all women seek regular pre-natal care to protect the health of both the mother and child. In a high risk pregnancy, this may require more regular visits to your OB/GYN or midwife. Your healthcare provider may require more frequent diagnostic tests, such as ultrasounds, blood work, genetic testing, and blood pressure readings, to evaluate the health of mother and baby.
2. Diet. It is essential that you eat well, including plenty of healthy protein, vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Your doctor may recommend other pre-natal supplements, and potentially medication, depending on the reason(s) you are considered high-risk.
3. Exercise. Short of contact sports and exercises that place a great strain on the body, we recommend that our mothers get regular exercise. Yoga is a great place to start! However, if you are high risk, your doctor may have strict guidelines regarding the types of exercise you can participate in. You may not be able to exercise at all if you are placed on bed rest.
4. Perinatologist. Your doctor or midwife may refer to you a perinatologist, who is a maternal-fetal specialist. Usually, you will see the perinatologist in addition to your regular pre-natal healthcare provider.
5. Work. Depending on your situation, you may be told that you can’t work during your pregnancy, or past a certain point in your pregnancy. In many cases, you will qualify for disability to compensate you for your time off work.
6. Bed rest. In some cases, bed rest is a requirement for high risk pregnancies. Women who are pregnant with multiples often have to go on bed rest during their third-trimester of pregnancy.
7. NO SMOKING OR DRINKING. If you smoke or drink it is imperative that you are honest with your healthcare provider so you can work together to quit. It is never healthy to smoke or drink while pregnant, but it can be especially dangerous if you are considered high risk.
Make sure you feel comfortable asking your healthcare provider for any additional information or explanations you need to facilitate a healthy pregnancy and delivery. Overlake OB/GYN provides quality healthcare to women with both normal and high risk pregnancies.