It’s a situation every woman wants to avoid. You’re excited about those little lines finally appearing on the pregnancy test. You scheduled your first appointment, but then your OB/GYN breaks the news: you have a high-risk pregnancy.
What does “high-risk pregnancy” mean?
Before you panic, know that a high-risk pregnancy does not automatically mean that anything bad is going to happen to you or your baby. It simply means that because of a medical condition or other situation, you have a higher chance of pregnancy complications. Many high-risk pregnancies have no complications and end in happy and healthy moms and babies.
To help ensure your health and safety, your doctor has labeled you as a high-risk pregnancy so you can receive extra attention and care.
What causes a high-risk pregnancy?
Your physician will explain why you are a high-risk pregnancy and answer all your high-risk pregnancy questions. Many high-risk pregnancies are completely unavoidable; it has nothing to do with something you have done. Common unavoidable causes of high-risk pregnancies include:
- Pregnant women under 17 or over 35 are considered high-risk pregnancies
- Being pregnant with multiple babies
- Having a history of complicated pregnancies, such as preterm labor, C-section, pregnancy loss or having a child with a birth defect
- A family history of genetic conditions
- Having a heart condition
- Certain conditions such as epilepsy, kidney disease or polycystic ovary syndrome
- Problems with the structure of the uterus, cervix or placenta
- Rh sensitization
Still, a healthy lifestyle can help reduce your pregnancy risks. To have a healthier pregnancy:
- Maintain a healthy weight, which includes not being underweight
- Eat a nutritious well-balanced diet with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables
- Exercise as per your doctor’s recommendations
- Get rest when you can
- Limit your caffeine intake
- Avoid smoking, drinking or illegal drugs
- Follow your recommended prenatal care
Identify your risks, complete this prenatal screening form here
What should I do if I have a high-risk pregnancy?
If you are labeled as a high-risk pregnancy, you and your doctor will work together to create a prenatal care plan that helps keep you and your baby safe. This plan may include:
- Additional prenatal appointments, tests or ultrasounds
- An appointment with a genetic counselor
- An appointment with a maternal-fetal medicine physician who specializes in high-risk pregnancies
- A healthy diet plan
- A plan for safe exercise (or no exercise)
- Smoking cessation help
- In extreme cases, bed rest at home or in a hospital
Your doctor may also tell you to look out for certain symptoms, such as bleeding, pain or contractions. You should always call your doctor if you experience these symptoms.
High-risk pregnancies can feel like high-stress pregnancies. Though you might feel scared or anxious, try to find ways to reduce your stress and enjoy your pregnancy. You can try out prenatal yoga, meditation or other calming techniques.
Remember that your physician’s number one goal is to protect the health of you and your baby. Always follow his or her advice and never be afraid to ask a question.
Identify your risks, complete this prenatal screening form here or speak to a provider here:
Teenagers who are pregnant often face a stressful situation. They may want to keep the pregnancy a secret from everyone, even their parents and the father of the child. If you are a teenager and pregnant, you must tell at least one person: your doctor.
Though teen pregnancy is at a historic low in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the majority of teen pregnancies are still unplanned, putting mom and baby at a higher risk for health problems.
Pregnant teens have a greater chance of dangerously high blood pressure or labor and delivery complications. Their babies are more likely to be born prematurely or at a lower birth weight, leading to complications like infections, breathing problems or neurological problems.
With proper prenatal care and support from a trusted doctor, you can increase your chances of having a healthy baby as a teenager. To have a safer, healthier pregnancy, you should follow these steps:
Seek confidential pregnancy care
As soon as you find out you are pregnant, you should try to find an OB/GYN to help you. In the state of Florida, you can seek pregnancy care without consent from your parents. Your OB/GYN does not have to tell your parents that you received care, so you can trust that your care is confidential.
At Women’s Care Florida, we encourage you to speak with a parent, legal guardian or trusted adult about your pregnancy if you feel it’s safe to do so. You may feel overwhelmed by your pregnancy and need the extra support for better health.
Begin taking prenatal vitamins
Prenatal vitamins that contain folic acid, iron and calcium help you stay healthy and support your baby’s growth. You should begin taking these vitamins every day as soon as possible if recommended by your doctor.
Start healthy habits—and get rid of bad habits
When you are pregnant, whatever enters your body affects your baby’s body, too. It’s important to develop good habits like going on walks every day and eating plenty of healthy foods. You’ll also want to drink plenty of water, avoid caffeine and get a full eight hours of sleep each night.
If you smoke or drink, you should stop immediately to help protect your baby from birth defects. If you have sex while pregnant, you should always use a condom to protect yourself and your child from sexually transmitted infections.
Attend all your doctors’ appointments
Your doctor will want to see you regularly to ensure you and your baby are healthy. Your doctor can also help you adopt healthy habits during pregnancy, deal with pregnancy side effects and help you prepare for labor and delivery. You may find it helpful to bring someone with you to these appointments so you feel supported.
Take childbirth and parenting classes
Many hospitals offer free or low-cost childbirth and parenting classes. These classes don’t just teach you how to breathe during labor. They teach you about feeding and bathing your baby, getting a baby to sleep and dealing with crying. You can keep taking parenting classes as your baby gets older, which can help you handle behavior problems and learn how to help your child grow up healthy and strong.
At Women’s Care Florida, our only goal is to keep you and your baby healthy. We provide a confidential, understanding environment for your care. If you are pregnant and have not met with an obstetrician, please schedule an appointment with one of our trusted OB/GYNs.
Pregnancy can leave you sweaty, even on the coolest days. The extra weight, the hormones, the slightly higher body temperature all contribute to more perspiration.
As if that wasn’t enough, another hot and humid Florida summer is upon us. Whether you’re sporting a small second-trimester bump or are ready to give birth any minute, doctors at Women’s Care Florida suggest pregnant women try out these techniques to stay cool in Florida weather:
Drink Plenty of Fluids
When you sweat a lot, your body quickly loses fluids it needs, leading to dehydration. Talk to your doctor about how much water you should drink throughout the day since dehydration can raise your risk for preterm labor. Keep a bottle of cool water with you all day to stay hydrated, lower your body temperature and improve your summer health. You know you are drinking enough when your urine is pale yellow or clear.
Just Avoid the Heat
Staying in air-conditioned spaces is the best way to stay cool, especially when temperatures soar over 90 degrees. If you love the beach and can’t stay away, we suggest visiting in the mornings or evenings when it is cooler and the sun is less intense. Avoid being outside between 10 am and 4 pm. When you are outdoors, seek shade or stay under a beach umbrella.
Choose a Cool Wardrobe
A summer pregnancy does not mean you need to cover up your bump with lots of layers. Light-colored, loose clothing can help you stay cool and prevent the discomfort of clothes sticking to your body. Breathable dresses in cotton or linen are some of the best choices to keep you comfortable on Florida summer days.
Cool ocean or pool water can help you lower your body temperature and avoid feeling sweaty. The water can also help make your bump more buoyant, relieving strain on your back and muscles. Sporting a one-or-two-piece bathing suit also helps more of your skin be exposed to the air, which can wick away sweat more quickly. Just make sure to use plenty of sunscreen, we suggest SPF 35 or higher.
If you don’t have access to a beach or pool, taking frequent cold showers is a good alternative to stay cool and get rid of excess sweat.
Enjoy a Fruit Smoothie
An icy fruit smoothie has three big benefits: it cools you down, keeps you hydrated and can help you get the important nutrients you and your baby need. For even more pregnancy nutrition benefits, mix in a little kale, spinach or Greek yogurt. You may also find that eating smaller, lighter meals helps you stay cooler. For instance, instead of three normal meals, you may choose to have five smaller ones spread throughout the day.
Have more questions about maternity health? Click here to reach out to an OB/GYN at Women’s Care Florida to make sure you’re in tip-top shape for summer.
Before you make plans to become pregnant, it’s important that you speak to your OB-GYN about vaccinations that can help protect you and your baby from certain infections during pregnancy. Make sure your vaccinations are up to date before you become pregnant, and consult with your doctor before getting vaccinated to confirm the vaccines are safe for you and your baby.
Here’s a list of vaccinations you should receive before you become pregnant, according to the CDC.
The ideal time to get the flu vaccine is once per year between October and May before flu season begins. At present, there are two types of flu vaccines: the flu shot, and a flu nasal spray. Both vaccines are safe to get before you become pregnant, but wait at least one month before conceiving if you opt for the flu nasal spray. Women who get the flu during pregnancy are often at higher risk for major complications such as pneumonia, but flu vaccine can help lower your risk for getting the disease.
This vaccine helps protect you from getting HPV, which can cause genital warts and eventually lead to cervical cancer and cancers of the vulva and vagina. The HPV vaccine is mainly recommended for women aged 26 and under.
The MMR vaccine protects you against measles, mumps, and rubella, and lowers your risk for miscarriage, premature birth, and stillbirth should you develop any of these diseases while you’re pregnant. Rubella can also cause congenital rubella syndrome in your baby, which can lead to birth defects such as vision problems, hearing problems, and heart defects.
This vaccine protects you from chickenpox, which can be dangerous for your unborn baby and increase the risk for birth defects. If you’ve never had chickenpox, or haven’t been vaccinated for the disease, inform your OB-GYN immediately so you can receive the varicella vaccine.
Vaccines to avoid during pregnancy
If you find out you’re already pregnant before you get the recommended vaccines, inform your OB-GYN, since some vaccines are not safe to receive during pregnancy. If you’ve received any of the below vaccines, wait at least one month before becoming pregnant.
Vaccines that are not safe during pregnancy are:
- Flu mist / flu nasal spray
Getting caught up on recommended vaccines can help protect you and your baby throughout pregnancy and beyond. Don’t put off getting vaccinated; see your OB-GYN to find out which vaccines you need.
Women’s Care Florida can provide immunizations at the time of your scheduled appointment or annual exam. Schedule an appointment with WCF today to receive the latest recommended vaccines, and to get your questions about immunizations answered by an experienced, board-certified OB-GYN.
What will my pregnancy be like?
While it’s a question every OB/GYN expects to be asked, especially by first-time mothers, it’s one that can’t be answered definitively. Women experience pregnancy differently. However, there are common physical and emotional changes that every mom-to-be should expect.
First trimester: Weeks 1 – 13
During the first trimester, hormones are in command! As your hormone levels increase and your body prepares for the months ahead, numerous changes begin taking place:
- Breasts begin to feel tender and grow in size
- Heightened sensitivity to smell develops
- Ovulation cycles stop within two weeks
- Mood swings may become pronounced
- Urination becomes more frequent
- Uterus begins to grow
- Vaginal discharge may increase, appearing white and milky
Weight gain is minimal in the first trimester, and most women do not begin to “show”. In fact, the surge in hormones at the onset of pregnancy causes many women to experience nausea, or “morning sickness.” Often accompanied by vomiting, morning sickness can even lead to weight loss for some.
Good prenatal care and nutrition are essential to a healthy pregnancy. It’s important you contact your Women’s Care Florida OB/GYN to begin scheduling your prenatal visits as soon as possible.
Second trimester: Weeks 14 – 27
The second trimester is when most early pregnancy symptoms lesson or disappear (farewell, nausea!), making it a favorite time for many expectant mothers. However, as your baby continues to grow, you can expect a number of new changes that accompany mid-dle pregnancy. Some physical changes may include:
- Aches in the abdomen, back and thighs
- Congestion due to an increased blood flow to mucous membranes
- Dizziness caused by lower blood pressure from extra blood flow
- Expanding uterus; most women begin to show
- Patches of dark skin on the face (mask of pregnancy)
- Sensitive and/or bleeding gums
- Swelling of the ankles and feet
- Varicose veins
Emotionally, you may be feeling a bit forgetful this trimester; “pregnancy brain” is yet another side effect of surging hormones. Rest assured, this fogginess and lack of focus will disappear after pregnancy.
The second trimester is also when your physician will perform a level two ultrasound. While most mothers equate this to the excit-ing moment when a baby’s sex is revealed (or not!), it is also a critical opportunity for your doctor to ensure the baby is growing properly. For more information on the ultrasounds and screening tests offered by Women’s Care Florida, click here.
Third trimester: Weeks 28 – 40
This is it — the last leg of your pregnancy. Let’s be honest, growing a baby is hard work, and by now you’re probably feeling the effects of pregnancy sleep problems, pregnancy weight gain and the anxiety of the big life changes to come. But these stresses are tempered by the excitement of knowing you’ll soon meet your baby!
Physically, your growing body continues to meet the demands of pregnancy, and you may experience:
- Abdominal aches as the round ligaments supporting your lower abdomen stretch to accommodate your growing bump
- Braxton Hicks contractions— uterine muscles (used to push baby out) begin to tighten
- Breasts continue to grow and milk may start leaking from nipples
- Heartburn as the uterus pushes stomach contents upward
- Lack of bladder control
- Sciatica — a sharp pain or numbness that starts in your back and runs down your leg
- Vivid dreams
As you continue to prepare for your baby’s arrival, you may want to consider attending child birth classes, developing a birth plan and touring birth centers at local hospitals. Also, understanding the stages of labor and delivery can help alleviate pre-birth jitters. Don’t get overwhelmed — your OB/GYN is an excellent source of information and guidance!
Congratulations! Your baby has arrived. All those months of planning and doctor visits have led to one of the most incredible expe-riences of your life — motherhood.
While your natural tendency is to turn all focus to your baby, it is important you also continue caring for yourself. You may experi-ence a number of postpartum changes, including:
- Abdominal cramps as your uterus contracts
- Breast discomfort
- Difficulty urinating
- Leaking breasts
- Night sweats
- Pain or numbness around C-section incision
- Perineal discomfort, pain or numbness
- Sore or cracked nipples from breastfeeding
- Vaginal bleeding
It is common for new mothers to feel anxious or depressed after giving birth. Postpartum depression affects up to one-in-seven women and usually begins a couple days after giving birth. While it often gets better on its own, some women need to seek treat-ment. If you have signs of postpartum depression, it is important you contact your doctor.
Remember, becoming a new mother is an amazing experience, but it comes with many changes. The best way to prepare for your pregnancy journey? Understand the stages of your pregnancy, take good care of your mental and physical health, and partner with your Women’s Care Florida OB/GYN to prepare for the months ahead.