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What to expect during a high-risk pregnancy

This article is part of the Ultimate Guide to Pregnancy.

OB/GYN doctors will classify a pregnancy as high-risk when pregnancy problems and atypical complications threaten a mother, her baby, or both before, during, or after delivery.

Here, in the United States, one in ten pregnancies is classified as high-risk.

It’s common to have questions if you have a high-risk pregnancy. Keep reading to learn more about how to have a healthy pregnancy, understand which risk factors associated with high-risk pregnancies, and find out more about things you can do to prevent problems and take care of yourself and your baby.

son hugs his pregnant mother

Causes of high-risk pregnancies

Every pregnancy is unique, so what is a risk for one patient may not be a risk for another woman.

What happens during your first prenatal visit

Some of the most common factors that can lead to a high-risk pregnancy situation are pre-existing, and others can happen during pregnancy. Some conditions can be controlled, and others aren’t treatable.

Problems that can lead to a high-risk pregnancy include:

  • Chronic health problems and conditions, such as:
    • asthma that’s poorly controlled
    • autoimmune disease
    • diabetes
    • high blood pressure
    • HIV/AIDS
    • kidney disease
    • obesity
    • polycystic ovary syndrome
    • thyroid disease
    • Zika infection
  • Age (especially teens and mothers who are pregnant for the first-time after age 35)
  • Lifestyle factors, especially use of risky substances, such as:
    • alcohol
    • drugs
    • tobacco
  • Pregnancy-related condition and complications, such as:
    • Birth defects and other genetic conditions in the fetus
    • Abnormal placenta position
    • Delayed or poor fetal growth
    • Gestational diabetes
    • Multiple pregnancies (carrying twins, triplets, or more babies at one time)
    • Preeclampsia and eclampsia
    • Previous pre-term birth

Talk to your healthcare provider if you have questions about potential risk factors for your pregnancy.

Schedule a prenatal check up

Signs and symptoms to watch out for

If you have a high-risk pregnancy, your OB/GYN doctor may give you specific things to keep an eye on, such as:

  • Bad headaches
  • Blurred vision and other changes in your vision
  • Decreased fetal activity
  • Frequent or regular contractions
  • Pain when going to the bathroom or cramping in your abdomen
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Watery vaginal discharge

Preventing a high-risk pregnancy

It’s not always possible to prevent a high-risk pregnancy, but some of the things you can do to minimize risks and lower the chance of defects include:

  • Seeing your OB/GYN doctor at regularly scheduled prenatal visits
  • Eating a low-fat, high-fiber diet
  • Getting your thyroid checked before getting pregnant
  • Taking vitamins and supplements if you have any deficiencies
  • Gaining the right amount of weight (your OB/GYN doctor can help you determine what's right for you to support your pregnancy and make it easier to drop extra pounds after delivery)
  • Talking to your doctor about progesterone shots if you have a family history of premature births
  • Getting regular exercise
  • Easing anxiety, staying calm, and keeping stress in check with yoga or meditation
  • Avoiding people with colds and other illnesses when pregnant
  • Getting screened for bacterial vaginosis

Schedule a prenatal check up

Your OB/GYN doctor will keep a close watch on your pregnancy to detect problems quickly if you are high-risk.

High-risk pregnancy treatments

Treatment for any high-risk pregnancy is always customized based on your risk factors. Your OB/GYN doctor’s goal during your prenatal appointments will always be to detect potential problems as quickly as possible.

Special prenatal tests and screenings

If you are having a high-risk pregnancy, your OB/GYN doctor may recommend different tests or procedures during your routine prenatal visits to monitor your condition.

Some high-risk pregancy tests include:

  • Amniocentesis
  • Biophysical profile to check the baby’s wellbeing
  • Chorionic villus sampling
  • Cordocentesis
  • Lab tests
  • Ultrasounds

Get a prenatal checkup

Are you having a baby in north-central Indiana? Get personalized prenatal care that’s close to home.

Logansport Memorial Hospital offers convenient maternity care and a nurturing childbirth experience in a comfortable, home-like environment. Serving Cass County and the surrounding communities, our experienced maternity care staff provides a comprehensive, high-quality maternal and neonatal services.

Schedule an appointment by calling (574) 722-3566 or request an appointment online.

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TOPICS: OB/GYN, Women's Health