Nearly 3.75 million babies are born each year in the United States. Most pregnancies and births are considered routine, but about 8% of American women experience pregnancies that are classified as high risk.
A high-risk pregnancy requires extra care to ensure both mom and baby are as healthy as possible. Many different factors, from your health before you got pregnant to complications that arise during pregnancy, could make your pregnancy riskier.
If you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant, now is the time to learn more about the factors that contribute to high-risk pregnancy — and what you can do about them.
Daniel McDonald, MD, Marc Wilson, MD, and our obstetrics team at OB/GYN Specialists offer comprehensive pregnancy care. Here are six of the most common things we see that could make your pregnancy high risk.
1. Your age
Women’s bodies are uniquely equipped for pregnancy and childbirth, but it’s no secret that the changes are dramatic. Because pregnancy takes a toll on your body, your age plays a role in whether your pregnancy is considered high risk.
Women who are younger than 17 or older than 35 may be at higher risk. Even if you’re generally healthy, having a baby at a very young age or older age increases your risk of complications.
2. Pre-existing health conditions
Your health before you get pregnant can affect your health during pregnancy. If you were generally healthy before pregnancy, your risk of complications may be lower. However, having certain chronic health conditions could make your pregnancy riskier.
A pregnancy may be high risk if the mother has one or more pre-existing conditions, including:
- Heart disease
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
While many of these conditions can’t be cured, having them doesn’t mean you can’t have a healthy pregnancy. Managing your condition before and during pregnancy can help you avoid complications.
3. Pregnancy complications
Pregnancy complications are health conditions that arise during pregnancy. Any woman can develop these complications, no matter her health before getting pregnant.
A few of the most common pregnancy complications are:
- Gestational diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Incompetent cervix
- Premature labor
Being diagnosed with one or more of these conditions can turn a routine pregnancy into a high-risk one. Many of these conditions require extra care during pregnancy, labor, and delivery.
4. History of pregnancy complications
If you’ve been pregnant before, your pregnancy history could indicate that this pregnancy is high risk. A history of pregnancy complications, like gestational diabetes or premature labor, may mean these issues are more likely to occur again. Having a history of miscarriage could also make your pregnancy high risk.
5. Carrying multiples
Most women have just one baby at a time. But a multiple pregnancy occurs when you have two or more fetuses. Twins occur naturally in about 1 of every 250 pregnancies, while triplets occur in about 1 of every 10,000.
In many cases, carrying multiples automatically classifies your pregnancy as high risk. That’s because carrying twins, triplets, or more increases your chances of pregnancy complications like premature labor.
6. Certain lifestyle habits
You may not be able to control your age or your health, but you can change several lifestyle factors that could make your pregnancy riskier.
Drinking alcohol while you’re pregnant can increase the risk of a range of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, which cause serious birth defects. Cigarettes can contribute to low birth weight, while abusing legal and illegal drugs can also cause birth defects.
The good news is that abstaining from alcohol, cigarettes, and other drugs while you’re pregnant can protect you and your baby.
Finding out that your pregnancy is high risk can be scary, but it’s still possible to have a positive experience and a healthy baby at the end of it all. Learn more about what makes pregnancies high risk and how to take care of yourself and your baby with a prenatal appointment at OB/GYN Specialists.
Contact our Denton, Texas, office at 940-202-0566 or send us a message online today.