I have a high-risk pregnancy. What does that mean?
If your pregnancy is high-risk, it means you need extra care to help you have a healthy pregnancy and baby. If you are being treated for a lifelong (chronic) condition, you may have known for a long time that becoming pregnant carries additional risks. Alternatively, you may find out you have a high-risk pregnancy because of a problem that develops for the first time during pregnancy.
Either way, having a high-risk pregnancy means it is more likely that you or your baby will have health problems during pregnancy, birth, or after delivery. These could be minor problems, but in some cases, a high-risk condition can be life-threatening for a woman or her baby. That is why a high-risk pregnancy requires extra monitoring by a healthcare provider.
Being told that your pregnancy is high-risk can be a shock, and you are likely to feel a mix of emotions. You might find it difficult to enjoy your pregnancy because you are worried about your health or your baby’s health.
Ask your provider for information about your pregnancy and how to prevent or manage problems. Building a support network, talking to your partner, family, and friends, or other women in a similar situation, can help you feel better informed and more in control.
It is likely you will hear and read about many issues and complications that could affect your pregnancy. However, having a high-risk pregnancy does not mean you will not have a healthy baby. So don’t give up hope.
What causes a high-risk pregnancy?
Many factors can make a pregnancy high-risk.
You might be considered high risk if you had problems in a previous pregnancy – if you delivered a baby early, for example. This does not mean you will experience the same issues again, but your provider will want to keep a closer eye on you as your pregnancy progresses.
Some health conditions can make your pregnancy high-risk too. See a doctor before you start trying to get pregnant if you have a chronic disease, so you can be as healthy as possible before you conceive. Many health conditions affect pregnancy including
If you have a blood disorder, such as sickle cell disease or Tallahassee, the additional strain pregnancy puts on your body can make your condition worse. There are also potential risks to your baby (both during pregnancy and after delivery) if she inherits your situationChronic kidney disease.
This condition increases your risk of miscarriage, developing high blood pressure and preeclampsia, and having your baby early. Pregnancy can also put an extra strain on your kidneys.
Pregnancy and becoming a mom can make you more vulnerable to mental health problems, including anxiety and depression. Untreated depression and some medications for depression are linked with risks for your baby. (However, don’t make changes to your medication without talking to your healthcare provider first. Stopping suddenly has risks too.)
High blood pressure
You can still have a healthy pregnancy, even if you have high blood pressure. However, untreated high blood pressure can cause your baby to grow more slowly than usual or be born early. Other complications associated with high blood pressure include preeclampsia and placental abruption, a severe condition in which the placenta partially or completely separates from the uterus before a baby is born.
HIV or AIDS
If you have HIV or AIDS, your baby can become infected before birth, during delivery, or when you breastfeed. Fortunately, medication can dramatically reduce this risk.