Being called “high-risk” may sound scary, but it’s just a way for doctors to ensure that you get special attention during your pregnancy. It usually means that you or your baby has an increased chance of a health problem—not that you or the baby will definitely have one.
What kind of conditions will put you in the high-risk category?
- You have a health problem such as diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, kidney disease, heart valve problems, sickle cell disease, asthma, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or epilepsy
- You smoke or use alcohol or illegal drugs
- You are younger than 17 or older than 35
- You are pregnant with more than one baby
- You’ve had three or more miscarriages
- Your baby has a genetic condition, such as Down syndrome, or a heart, lung, or kidney problem
- You’ve had past problems such as preterm labor, preeclampsia or eclampsia
- You’ve already had a baby with a genetic condition
- You have an infection, such as HIV, hepatitis C, cytomegalovirus (CMV), chicken pox, rubella, toxoplasmosis or syphilis
Will my doctor treat me differently for a high-risk pregnancy?
You’ll have more regularly scheduled visits to the doctor, and you may have more ultrasound tests to keep an eye on your baby’s growth. Genetic testing may also be done, especially if you are 35 or older or had a genetic issue in a past pregnancy.
Can a pregnancy become high risk later?
Yes. Sometimes a medical condition develops during pregnancy for either mom or baby causes a pregnancy to become high risk. Some complications include:
- problems with the uterus, cervix or placenta
- severe morning sickness
- too much amniotic fluid
- too little amniotic fluid
- Rh (rhesus) sensitization, which can occur if your blood type is Rh negative and your baby’s blood type is Rh positive
What can I do to stay healthy during a high-risk pregnancy?
- Seek regular prenatal care so your health care provider can monitor your health and your baby’s. Visit a specialist in maternal-fetal medicine, genetics, pediatrics or other areas if necessary.
- Establish a good relationship with your doctor and with other doctors in the practice. You’ll want to feel comfortable discussing any concerns you might have and know that any of them can treat you if necessary.
- Eat a healthy diet. A daily prenatal vitamin can help fill any gaps. Consult your health care provider if you have special nutrition needs due to a health condition, such as diabetes.
- Gain weight wisely. Work with your health care provider to determine what’s right for you.
- Avoid risky substances. If you smoke, drink alcohol or do illegal drugs—quit. But get your health care provider’s OK before you start or stop taking any medications or supplements.
- Talk to your doctor about any health problems you have and any medications you are taking.
At Chouchani, Sayegh and Bagnarello, we pride ourselves on providing personal and friendly care to each and every patient. If you have any questions or concerns about your pregnancy or your prenatal or postnatal health, call us any time at 716.633.6363.
Disclaimer: The medical information provided in this article is of a general nature and cannot substitute for the advice of a medical professional.