A pregnancy is high-risk when you or your baby are at an increased risk for complications. Some pregnancies become high-risk as they progress. Under other circumstances, women are at an elevated risk for complications before they become pregnant. Getting specialized prenatal care and taking the right steps help many women have a healthy pregnancy and delivery. Learn how you can keep yourself and your baby safe throughout your pregnancy and have a delivery without complications.
At the Center for Women's Health in Newport News and Hampton, Virginia, Cheri Coyle, MD, and her team guide mothers through the safest possible pregnancy. It’s natural to feel frightened by the term “high-risk pregnancy,” but it’s important to know that being at a higher risk doesn’t mean that you can’t have a healthy pregnancy.
When is a pregnancy considered high-risk?
A high-risk pregnancy requires special care. Various factors can make your pregnancy high-risk. Some pregnancies begin normally, and conditions like high blood pressure develop that increase the health risks for you and your baby. Your provider may tell you that your pregnancy is considered high-risk if you:
Have certain preexisting health conditions
Having certain health conditions, like high blood pressure and diabetes, increases the chances that you will experience pregnancy complications. Preexisting conditions like high blood pressure require careful management and close monitoring.
Close to one in four women who have preexisting hypertension, for example, will develop higher than normal blood pressure during pregnancy. This is called preeclampsia. Pregnant women with preexisting high blood pressure who experience higher-than-normal blood pressure levels during pregnancy are at a higher risk of premature birth, heart complications, kidney problems, and low birth weight.
Dr. Coyle and her team will monitor your preexisting condition closely and work to keep it under control throughout your pregnancy to reduce your risk of health complications.
Being extremely overweight when you become pregnant hikes up the risk for serious health complications. Women who are obese during pregnancy are at an increased risk for developing conditions like preeclampsia and diabetes. It also raises the chances of stillbirth and birth defects of the brain, spine, or spinal cord. Obesity raises the risk of that your baby may have heart problems at birth.
Additionally, obesity raises the risk of sleep apnea, a condition in which you stop breathing for short periods during sleep. This can cause you to feel quite fatigued throughout your pregnancy and elevates the risk of having abnormal blood pressure and blood sugar.
The best advice is to reach and maintain a healthy weight before getting pregnant. However, providers can help manage your risks and keep you and your baby safe if you’re currently overweight during your pregnancy. It’s important to know that despite the risks, you can have a healthy pregnancy if you’re obese.
Are over 35
As a woman you’re born with all the eggs you will ever have, and your eggs age as you do. Because egg quality decreases as you age, your risk of complications increases. Women over 35 who become pregnant are more likely to experience complications like premature birth and miscarriage.
Pregnancy after 35 raises the risk of genetic conditions like Down syndrome. Despite this, you should know that women can have healthy pregnancies in their mid-30s and beyond.
For more information on high-risk pregnancies and for the highest quality obstetric care from conception to delivery call our Newport News or Hampton, Virginia office to schedule an appointment with Dr. Coylel.