When a woman becomes pregnant and is looking forward to the birth of her child, she expects a normal pregnancy with no complications. This is ideal, and in many cases, it’s exactly what happens. But in some cases (estimates are around 8%), the woman and her child are facing a high-risk pregnancy.
High-risk pregnancy is a term health care providers use when there are possible complications that could affect the mother, child, or both during the pregnancy. These complications could be caused by chronic health problems, lifestyle choices, or conditions that develop during the pregnancy.
Because these pregnancies are in the high-risk category, they require focused care and management from specialists such as the expert team at OB/GYN Specialists in Denton, Texas.
Here’s a look at a few of the factors that can put a pregnancy into the high-risk category.
Existing health conditions
Many women have existing health conditions before becoming pregnant that make their pregnancy more risky than normal. These include:
PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome): Women with PCOS have a higher rate of miscarriage, gestational diabetes, and preeclampsia.
Diabetes: Women with diabetes must carefully manage their blood sugar all through their pregnancy. If blood sugar levels get too high, they can cause birth defects. Their babies are also likely to have low blood sugar soon after birth.
Autoimmune diseases: Women with autoimmune diseases such as lupus or multiple sclerosis are at greater risk for problems such as stillbirth and preterm birth. Some medicines for these diseases are also harmful to the baby, so these diseases must be managed carefully.
Obesity: Being overweight can lead to several problems during pregnancy, including a heightened risk of developing diabetes, potential structural problems with the baby’s heart, and babies who are larger, which leads to more difficult births.
Alcohol/tobacco/drug use: Using any of these substances while you’re pregnant automatically makes the pregnancy high risk. Women who drink while pregnant are more likely to have a miscarriage or stillbirth. Drinking also makes it more likely that the baby develops a fetal alcohol disorder as well as intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Smoking while you’re pregnant brings more dangerous possibilities into play, such as preterm birth, birth defects, SIDS, and other health problems. Smoking marijuana and taking drugs can interfere with regular brain development and increase the risk of stillbirth.
Conditions of pregnancy
Sometimes, the mother or baby develops certain health conditions during pregnancy that make the pregnancy high risk. Some of these conditions include:
Preeclampsia: This condition is marked by a sudden increase in the mom’s blood pressure after the 20th week of pregnancy. It can be fatal for the mother and baby.
Gestational diabetes: The mom develops diabetes during pregnancy.
Multiple babies: If a woman is pregnant with twins or triplets (or more!), the risk of the babies being born prematurely increases.
Previous preterm birth: If a woman has previously delivered a baby before 37 weeks, she’s more likely to do so again.
Birth defects or genetic conditions: This includes conditions like spina bifida and Down syndrome. Some conditions like these can be treated while the baby is still in the womb.
These conditions and factors may sound scary, but if you’re pregnant — or want to become pregnant — the team at OB/GYN Specialists wants to give you the high-quality care you deserve. They treat you like a member of their family as you plan for the newest addition to your family. Call today to schedule a consultation.