Most women expect pregnancy to progress smoothly, but high-risk pregnancies occur for a variety of reasons. Some factors in high-risk pregnancies result from lifestyle choices you can control to some degree, while others are out of your control. A thorough understanding of the implications and considerations helps you manage a high-risk pregnancy.
“High-risk pregnancy” is a label used to describe a pregnancy with at least one particular risk factor to the health of the pregnancy. A woman with one or more of the risk factors has an increased risk of delivering a baby with health issues. The woman might also experience health problems during the pregnancy.
A pregnant woman who is under 16 or over 34 is often labeled “high risk,” according to Kids Health. The mother’s weight is another factor. A woman who is underweight, overweight or obese has an increased risk of complications for herself and her baby. Preexisting medical conditions, such as heart problems, diabetes, lupus, asthma, seizures or high blood pressure could cause you to have a high-risk pregnancy. A pregnancy involving more than one baby is also usually considered high risk.
If you have had complications in a previous pregnancy you are likely to be considered high risk for future pregnancies. If you went into preterm labor or delivered a premature baby, you will likely be treated with extra care to avoid a repeat. Another reason for naming a pregnancy high risk is having previous children born with birth defects, particularly if you have a child with a genetic disorder.
Certain problems that arise during pregnancy can cause doctors to treat you with extra care. Preeclampsia is a potentially serious condition in some high-risk pregnancies that causes high blood pressure and increased proteins in the mother’s urine. Gestational diabetes and preterm labor are other reasons for the high-risk label during pregnancy, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Whether or not your pregnancy is labeled high risk, making good health choices increases the chances of having a healthy baby. If your age or weight puts you in the high-risk category, work with your doctor before conceiving to ensure you are in good health. Losing or gaining weight to reach a healthy weight also improves your chances of a healthy pregnancy. If you have a preexisting medical condition, take steps to get the condition under control before conceiving, including talking with your doctor about the implications of pregnancy with the condition. A daily dose of 400 micrograms of folic acid is recommended for women before conceiving and into the pregnancy, according to the National Institutes of Health. Healthy eating, exercise and no smoking, drugs or alcohol also increase the chances of a healthy pregnancy.