A pregnancy that is classified as high risk is one that threatens the health and life of the mother or her fetus; typically requiring specialized treatment from expert medical providers for the duration of the pregnancy, and potentially post-delivery. Women can have an increased risk of developing complications before getting pregnant due to pre-existing medical conditions such as being HIV+ while some pregnancies become high risk as they progress (many for no particular reason). The reason a woman’s pregnancy is or becomes high risk can also be due to genetic predispositions, lifestyle choices, or even medical complications from a previous pregnancy.
Risk Factors for High-Risk Pregnancy
The three most common risk factors for a mother having or developing a high-risk pregnancy include: existing health conditions, age, and the condition of the pregnancy (multiple births like twins or triplets).
Existing Health Conditions
If an expectant mother suffers from medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney disease or being HIV+, there is a potential for her pregnancy to be high risk, even before becoming pregnant. A mother being severely overweight can also significantly increase her risk of developing conditions like preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, or neural tube defects during her pregnancy; posing a health risk to her and the fetus.
According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, obesity before or while being pregnant can even be associated with “an increased risk of structural problems with the baby’s heart;” a risk worth avoiding. A more extensive list of health conditions that can threaten the general health and life of the mother or her fetus includes but is not limited to:
- High blood pressure
- Kidney disease
- Autoimmune diseases such as lupus or multiple sclerosis
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Thyroid disease
- Zika infection
It’s no secret that pregnancy is tough on the body, and by having a better handle on your pre-existing conditions, your pregnancy can be more enjoyable and greatly improve your chances of having a happier, healthier baby upon delivery.
Teen Pregnancies or Older Maternal Age
The age of the mother is also extremely important when considering the type of prenatal care required as well as the mother’s risk for developing pregnancy-related conditions. For instance, in both teen moms and women over the age of 35, there is an increased chance of developing preeclampsia and gestational high blood pressure. By keeping with your prenatal care and doctor appointments, your doctor at Brownsville Center of Obstetrics & Gynecology can monitor, identify, and treat developing conditions to keep you and your baby as healthy as possible during pregnancy and after delivery.
This risk factor should come to no surprise. The more fetuses a woman carries, the more likely she is to develop conditions or have complications such as premature labor or preterm birth (before 37 weeks of pregnancy). It’s for this reason that your doctor will want to keep a closer eye on your pregnancy. In general, the biggest risks for pregnancy with twins, triplets or more are the infants being born prematurely, a cesarean section delivery, and infants having post-delivery conditions like difficulty breathing due to preterm birth.
Beyond these conditions, it’s also important to note that lifestyle choices such as drug, tobacco, or alcohol use can harm the fetus and affect the health of both the mother and child. Whatever your case may be, early and routine prenatal care help you have a healthier pregnancy and delivery. For more information on the reasons for having a high-risk pregnancy, book an appointment at Brownsville Center of Obstetrics & Gynecology in Brownsville, TX today!