What does a high-risk pregnancy mean?
Not all pregnancies are the same. Some women experience what doctors call a high-risk pregnancy. A high-risk pregnancy may mean just minor problems during labor. But in some cases, it often leads to life-threatening results for the woman and her baby.
This does not mean you shouldn’t get pregnant or enjoy the term but it just means you and the baby will need extra love and care.
Common causes of high-risk pregnancies
- Maternal age: Your age has a lot to do with how smooth your pregnancy will be. Women under the age of 17 or over the age of 35, are at higher risk. There is a higher probability of miscarriages and genetic defects as you go over the age of 40.
- Blood disorders: The body undergoes many changes during pregnancy. Having a blood disorder like thalassemia puts additional stress on the body. It also increases the risk of the baby inheriting your condition.
- High blood pressure: While you will have a healthy pregnancy, in this case, untreated high blood pressure can result in the baby growing slowly or being born too early. Some other complications seen in women with high blood pressure include preeclampsia and placental abruption, where the placenta may separate from the uterus even before the baby is born.
- Chronic kidney disease: Women with kidney disease, are at a higher risk of miscarriage or developing high blood pressure during their term. This may result in having the baby early, increasing the chances of growth defects.
- Ovulation disorders: If your menstrual cycles occur at intervals greater than 35 days, you’re not ovulating normally. PCOS has become a common cause of ovulatory dysfunction. It is becoming very common in the younger age groups as well.
- HIV / AIDS: If you have HIV or AIDS, there is a high chance that your baby gets infected too before birth during the pregnancy or when you’re breastfeeding. But you can reduce this risk by starting the right medication at the right time.
- Autoimmune disorders: Can result in small babies due to growth retardation or preterm delivery and problems in the mother like high blood pressure, blood clotting, etc.
- Depression: In many cases, women experience anxiety and depression during pregnancy. Taking over the counter medications or leaving it untreated, can risk the health of the baby.
- Lupus: Autoimmune diseases like lupus increase the risk of preterm delivery. In some cases, the condition gets worse during pregnancy, harming the mother’s health.
- Obesity: It is better to keep your body mass index (BMI) under 30 during your pregnancy. A higher BMI can lead to type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and gestational diabetes.
- Thyroid disease: Thyroid (both underactive and overactive) doesn’t just affect you on a day to day basis, but can also harm your baby.
- Type 1 and 2 diabetes: If you have diabetes, or your family has a history of diabetes, be careful. Not managing it well, can lead to complications like high blood pressure, early delivery or birthing a child with defects.
But it is not just your health that affects your pregnancy. Your diet has an impact on your pregnancy too. Addiction to cigarettes, alcohol or drugs can complicate your pregnancy further. In some cases, they have led to early births, congenital disabilities, stillbirth, and disorders.
Worried that any of the above may lead to a high risk pregnancy for you? Let me help.