Learn about a high risk pregnancy and how to protect yourself
A high risk pregnancy is defined as any pregnancy where the mother is at high risk due to age, medical condition, or lifestyle choices. These risks may lead to complications during pregnancy, labor, and delivery, or even postpartum. There are different types of high-risk pregnancies. Each type requires different care and attention. A high-risk pregnancy is not always dangerous, but it does require special attention and monitoring.
What is a high risk pregnancy? – An Overview
Pregnancy is considered high risk if the mother suffers from any of the following conditions:
- Severe hypertension (blood pressure over 180/110)
- Pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure + proteinuria)
- Eclampsia (seizures + high blood pressure)
A high-risk pregnancy is also defined as any pregnancy that presents at least one of the following conditions :
- A previous history of preterm birth (before 37 weeks)
- An abnormal ultrasound examination before 20 weeks gestation
- Fetal malpresentation (breech presentation or transverse lie)
- Evidence of intrauterine infection (amnionitis)
- Abnormal fetal heart rate pattern
- Suspected intrauterine growth restriction
The Cause of High risk pregnancy
- Smoking cigarettes: Smoking cigarettes is the leading cause of high risk pregnancies. Cigarettes contain nicotine, carbon monoxide, tar, and many harmful chemicals. Nicotine is a highly addictive substance that affects the brain’s reward system. Carbon monoxide binds to hemoglobin in red blood cells, causing them to become less oxygen-rich. Tar contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), which are carcinogenic substances that damage DNA. PAHs have been linked to birth defects, miscarriage, premature labor, low birth weight, and sudden infant death syndrome.
- Alcohol consumption: Alcohol consumption is associated with an increased risk of preterm birth, stillbirth, and low birth weight. A study published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology showed that women who drank alcohol had a higher rate of preterm births than non-drinkers. Another study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health showed that drinking alcohol was associated with lower birth weight.
- Drug use: Drug use is associated with increased risk for preterm birth, low birth weight, fetal distress, and neonatal abstinence syndrome. Women who use drugs during pregnancy may experience withdrawal symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, seizures, and hallucinations. These symptoms can lead to dehydration, malnutrition, and infection.
- Stress: Stressful events can increase the risk of preterm birth and low birth weight. Studies show that stressful events experienced before or during pregnancy are associated with decreased birth weight.
- Infection: Infections can affect the fetus and newborn. Pregnant women should avoid contact with people who have colds, flu, or other infections. If they do get sick, they should stay home until their fever goes away. Avoiding exposure to smoke and secondhand smoke is also recommended.
- Maternal age: Women over 35 years old have a higher risk of having a baby with certain conditions. Older mothers are at greater risk of delivering babies with low birth weight, preterm birth, and small gestational age.
- Race/ethnicity: Black women have a higher risk of preterm birth compared to white women. Hispanic women have a higher risk for preterm birth and low-birth-weight infants compared to white women.
Are there any risks associated with it?
- Diabetes mellitus (DM)
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Heart disease
- Alcohol consumption
High risk pregnancy occurs at what age?
Several factors contribute to whether a woman is at risk for having a baby with birth defects or not. One of these factors includes her age. At what age should she consider herself to be at a higher risk?
When considering pregnancy, women need to take into account their age. Usually, low-risk pregnancies occur in women under 30 years of age. However, if they are over thirty years old, then their chances of having a child with a birth defect increase. Birth defects are also greater risks for women who have had previous children with birth defects.
If a woman is older than forty, then she might have0 high risk pregnancy. She may want to start taking folic acid supplements well before conception. Folic acid helps protect against birth defects in newborns. Folic acid is also necessary to help prevent neural tube defects and spina bifida.
The best way to get pregnant after the age of thirty is to use fertility treatments. There are many options available for women who are trying to conceive after the age of thirty. These options include using IUI (intrauterine insemination), IVF (in vitro fertilization), and ICSI (intracytoplasmatic sperm injection).
High Risk Pregnancy Diagnosis
High risk pregnancy diagnosis happens using ultrasound and biophysical tests. Ultrasound is a medical imaging technique used to examine internal organs and structures. A transvaginal ultrasound is the best way to diagnose early pregnancy loss. Biophysical tests detect hormone levels in the body. These tests help identify if the woman’s body is producing enough progesterone and estrogen. The faulty production of these hormones may lead to development problems for the fetus.
Monitoring High Risk Pregnancy
Monitoring high risk pregnancy involves taking care of yourself before the baby comes. You should eat well, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and tobacco use. There are many ways to monitor your condition. You can take regular blood pressure checks, weigh yourself daily, check your urine for protein or sugar content, and do pelvic exams monthly. You can also ask your doctor about doing home testing kits, such as the Clear Blue Easy test.
What are the management options for high risk pregnancies?
- Risk assessment: If you find out that you have been pregnant at some point in your past, you should make sure that you know what kinds of risk factors you might face while expecting a baby. Your doctor will let you know if you have any kind of risks, and if not, then he/she will ask you about your lifestyle and family history. If you have a history of having problems with pregnancies or babies before, it is best to talk to your OBGYN about how to prepare yourself for safe delivery. There are some things you can do to help prevent complications.
- Medications: You may need to take certain medications while you’re pregnant, especially if you’re prone to problems after delivering a baby. Most doctors will tell their patients which drugs they can safely take during pregnancy, but there are times when even these medications could cause harm to both the mother and her developing child.
- Nutrition: It’s always good to eat right, but eating healthier than you normally would is even better! Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy products will ensure that you get all the vitamins, minerals, and fiber that you need while avoiding foods that could potentially harm your baby.
- Sleep: Getting adequate sleep is very important during pregnancy, but you need a little extra rest compared to non-pregnant people. Try to go to bed no later than 11 pm, and get seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. Make sure that you are sleeping on a comfortable mattress or pillow, and don’t use anything like a waterbed or a memory foam pad.
- Rest: Resting is just as important as nutrition and exercise – and sometimes even more important! While you still need to get plenty of sleep, try to cut down on activities that require you to be awake and active, such as working out, watching TV, playing video games, driving, or using a computer.
- Labor & Delivery: When you finally reach the moment of labor, your doctor will schedule your admission to the hospital and start you on a birth plan. Make sure that you trust your doctor’s judgment on this, and you’ll be following his instructions carefully.
The first step toward preventing a high risk pregnancy is taking charge of your own body before conception takes place. You need to make sure that you have a healthy diet, stay fit and active, don’t smoke, drink alcohol, use drugs, and get regular checkups. If you do these things then you should have no problems at all getting pregnant. But even if you do everything right, you could still end up having a baby with birth defects. And it’s not just babies that may be born with birth defects. There are many different types of birth defects, including some which affect adults. Here we look at some of the more common ones.