Every woman is different. Every baby is different. Every pregnancy is different. Does that help? Probably not! But it seems to be the most common answer when you ask a question to anyone nowadays about pregnancy. Everybody simply has a different experience! While on one hand that is very true, on the other there are some obvious facts, statistics and general practices we can learn about that indicate specifically a high-risk pregnancy. In particular, we can dive into what it is, what we can manage and unavoidable factors.
The last thing you want to hear when you find out you’re pregnant is that you are considered high risk. Risk for what? According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, a high-risk pregnancy is one that threatens the health or life of the mother or her fetus and often requires specialized care from specially trained providers. It can sound scary, but there are trained professionals, such as Dr. E. Stanton Shoemaker, who can help ensure a smooth journey.
Manageable Pre-Pregnancy Tips to Avoid High-Risk
Of course, there’s no way to know exactly how the next nine months of pregnancy will lay out for you, factors can pop up without any bit of warning, but there are some ways to reduce the likelihood of becoming high risk before you even get pregnant. Lifestyle factors play an important role in not only getting pregnant but whether or not you become a high-risk pregnancy.
- Alcohol, tobacco and drug use are the obvious red flags. These habits can not only cause harm to you but to your newly developing fetus. Risks include intellectual and developmental disability, birth defects, sudden infant death syndrome or stillbirth, to name a few. These problems are completely avoidable and can be managed before and during pregnancy.
- Obesity is another factor for high-risk. Losing weight before getting pregnant could help reduce the complications that could occur during pregnancy. Obesity can cause a higher risk for developing diabetes during the pregnancy or cause an increased risk of structural problems with the baby’s heart. According to the Institute of Medicine, overweight women should gain no more than 15-25 pounds during pregnancy and obese women gain no more than 11-20 pounds.
- Managing your existing health conditions are another important part of having a healthy pregnancy. For example, getting your blood pressure under control or taking proper medications before you become pregnant can stabilize your journey. Knowing the status of any condition beforehand can help your healthcare professional know how to move forward. Even unavoidable health issues, properly treated prior to pregnancy, can get you started on a solid foundation.
Factors Outside of Our Control
Some factors for high risk simply can’t be helped. Your age, for example, when you become pregnant. Whether you were seeking to become pregnant or not is not the issue, you can’t change your age once it’s happened. Pregnancies in teens and women age 35 or older increase the risk for preeclampsia and gestational high blood pressure. Other unavoidable risk factors include multiple births or previous miscarriages.
According to NICHD, other existing health conditions may include:
- High blood pressure
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Kidney disease
- Autoimmune disease
- Thyroid disease
- Zika infection
What Do I Do if I’m Considered High Risk?
If you are considered a high-risk pregnancy due to any of the factors above or some other reason, it is especially important to see a highly trained and specialized physician. Dr. E. Stanton Shoemaker at Innovations in Women’s Health has over 11,000 deliveries and 40 years of practice under his belt. He desires that you fully understand what increases your risk for high risk and what you can do to ensure the best possible health to you and your baby.
Don’t wait until the middle of your pregnancy to get check-ups or ultrasounds. Even if you don’t fall under any of the categories above it is crucial that routine exams take place throughout the entire duration of your pregnancy.
High-risk pregnancies can be managed well and delivered successfully! Let your healthcare provider know of any and all medical conditions and be open about your symptoms. If you are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, please call Innovations in Health at 361-929-7088 to schedule your confidential consultation.
 Institute of Medicine. (2009). Weight gain during pregnancy. Retrieved on August 30, 2019, from http://nationalacademies.org/hmd/~/media/Files/Report%20Files/2009/Weight-Gain-During-Pregnancy-Reexamining-the-Guidelines/Report%20Brief%20-%20Weight%20Gain%20During%20Pregnancy.pdf