What classifies a pregnancy as “high risk?” While there are certain conditions that present themselves during pregnancy that can affect your health, sometimes the risk begins before you get pregnant. Read on to find out more.
Let’s clarify. “High risk” doesn’t mean that your child will be born with developmental issues or that you are in danger if you deliver. It simply means that you have indicators that warrant a closer watch by your doctor. Here are just a few of those indicators:
If you are aware of these being present in your life, talk to your doctor. It is ideal to talk to your obstetrician before you become pregnant, but if you already are, the first prenatal visit is the best time to discuss any of these presenting health issues.
High risk pregnancies can also be caused by lifestyle choices. Pregnant women who smoke, use illicit drugs or alcohol, are over the age of 35, or have a history of previous health problems during pregnancy, are more likely to have high risk factors show up.
There are certain conditions that occur when and only when a woman is pregnant. An example of this is preeclampsia. It shows up after about 20 weeks of pregnancy. When the pregnancy is over, the condition usually goes away in most cases.
One indication of this condition is abnormally high blood pressure. A woman with a history of high blood pressure before pregnancy increases her risk of this condition once she gets pregnant.
You always need to follow your doctor’s instructions during pregnancy, but belonging to the high risk category makes it doubly important to comply.
It is always prudent to tell your doctor about any symptoms that worry you and to discuss all your lifestyle habits. Your visits will be more frequent if your doctor deems it necessary given the information you share and your possible high risk status. This can also mean extra ultrasounds to be sure that baby is developing on schedule.
Make lifestyle changes. Stop smoking and drinking alcohol. These habits can contribute to low birth weight and fetal alcohol syndrome, respectively. Boost your immune system and that of your unborn baby by taking a prenatal vitamin. Your doctor may recommend additional vitamin supplements as needed.
Eating a healthy diet is one way to manage your high risk status and give birth to a healthy baby. Many of us use our pregnancy as an excuse to eat all the foods we love with reckless abandon. “I’m eating for two!” If you are at risk for a difficult pregnancy, this overindulgence will hurt your chances of having a successful delivery and a healthy baby.
There are potential risks with every pregnancy, whether you fall into a high risk group or not. Some high risk pregnancies cannot be avoided due to genetics. However, choosing a healthy lifestyle along with frequent visits to your doctor go a long way toward getting you all the way through these nine months and holding a healthy, happy new little baby!