High Risk Pregnancies

22 January, 2019

Though pregnancy is supposed to be the beginning of one of the best parts of being a mother, in some cases, this beginning can be quite stressful. For some women, the pregnancy can be a ‘high risk’ pregnancy; though it sounds scary, it’s just another term used by doctors to refer to a pregnancy that needs a little extra care than others. About 6-8% of all pregnancies are high risk pregnancies that may develop some complications.

Basically, a high risk pregnancy is one where the life or health of the mother or the fetus is at stake. This type of pregnancy can pose challenges before, during or post delivery and needs constant surveillance both by the mother as well as her doctor. Sometimes the risk develops because of a pre-existing condition before the pregnancy, or it could develop as a result of the pregnancy. To take better care of such a situation and keep the baby safe, we first need to understand what the risk factors are for a high risk pregnancy. Some of these factors include:

Maternal age – If the mother is younger than 17 or older than 35 years. The older the age, the more difficult is the pregnancy.

Underlying issues – Chronic diseases like diabetes, asthma or hypertension, anemia, kidney disease, epilepsy and cancer all increase chances of complications in pregnancy. The medications taken for some of these conditions might also not be safe for the growing fetus. A further condition called gestational diabetes may occur which can lead to pre-term labor.

Medical history – previous pre-term or low birth weight babies, previous cesarean deliveries or earlier three or more miscarriages all represent a need for being more careful with the current pregnancy; other factors include a family history of genetic diseases or a history of death of baby shortly after birth.

Complications of Pregnancy – Complications such as placenta previa (when the placenta is attached to the lower half of the uterus) or an incompetent cervix that can’t bear the increasing weight of the pregnancy. Others include Rh sensitization where the mother’s blood group is Rh-negative and the baby’s blood group is Rh-positive, leading to a potentially morbid situation. Pre-eclampsia and eclampsia are complications of pregnancy that can also prove to be fatal for the mother and/or baby.

Multiple pregnancies – When the mother is carrying twins or more than two babies, the risks are higher.

Lifestyle – Indulging in smoking, drinking or using recreational drugs can all pose risks for the growing fetus.

Infections – Viral infections such as HIV or hepatitis C can pose problems for the fetus along with other viral infections such as the CMV (cytomegalovirus), rubella and chicken pox. Other infections like syphilis and toxoplasmosis can also create risks for the pregnancy.

Problems like certain medications which are essential for the mother’s health as well as conditions like sickle cell disease, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, asthma and heart valve issues, all pose risks to the pregnancy.

But in spite of all this, you can still have a successful, full-term pregnancy!