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
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: