Despite what popular culture has us believe, no two
pregnancies are exactly alike.
Movies and TV shows skew our vision of what pregnancy and birth should look like. You pee on a stick, vomit for a few months, enjoy a “Better Homes and Garden” baby shower, and wear cute maternity clothes. Finally, your water dramatically breaks and you’re rushed to the hospital to deliver your bundle of joy. Then the screen cuts away to a supermodel-styled mom cradling her sleeping baby moments after birth.
In a perfect world, this would be the reality of having children. However, many pregnancies don’t follow the idealized version.
Every day approximately 6 – 8% of expectant mothers in the world are experiencing what’s known as a ‘high-risk’ pregnancy. What does this mean, exactly?
While any woman over the age of 35 is technically considered high-risk, it’s a common misconception that advanced maternal age is the only contributing factor in these pregnancies. On the contrary, there are several reasons a doctor can classify a woman’s gestation as high-risk.
During your first prenatal appointment, your doctor will evaluate different factors about your health and the health of your baby or babies (if you’re expecting multiples). You’ll also receive a variety of testing, such as a blood and urine tests.
Using the results from your appointment and these tests, your doctor will be able to determine whether you’re experiencing a high-risk pregnancy.
A high-risk pregnancy is a pregnancy involving one or more common risk factors. These risks can endanger your health or the health of your baby. Additionally, pre-term labor can occur in these situations. To overcome these difficulties, your gestational health will be carefully observed throughout your pregnancy.
Despite significant advances in the maternal health industry, there are plenty of reasons a woman will need closer monitoring than usual throughout her pregnancy.
High-risk pregnancies can affect any woman, no matter her age, ethnicity, or lifestyle. Understanding the reason behind your diagnosis is an essential part of maintaining a healthy pregnancy. There are several common reasons a woman might be more likely to have a high-risk pregnancy.
While it’s certainly not the only reason women have high-risk pregnancies, advanced maternal age is a common one.
In terms of fertility, any woman over the age of 35 falls into this category. If you’ve ever heard the outdated term ‘geriatric pregnancy’, it refers to this group of women. Once you’ve entered this age bracket, conceiving becomes much harder due to issues like low ovarian reserves and abnormal chromosomes.
Furthermore, once some older women have successfully conceived, their body isn’t always capable of supporting the baby the way it needs to be during gestation.
Sustaining a pregnancy can be problematic for women with certain pre-existing medical conditions. Some of the diseases and conditions that can interfere with a woman’s ability to carry her child are:
If a woman has suffered a previous pregnancy loss or from other reproductive issues, it would also be classified as a pre-existing condition. Events like these would more than likely result in future pregnancies being labeled high-risk.
Doctors and patients don’t always know a pregnancy is high-risk from the start. In fact, specific conditions affecting a woman’s ability to carry her baby can be a result of the pregnancy itself. In these situations, the circumstances usually have little to do with the mother’s pre-pregnancy health.
One of the best things you can do for yourself and your baby during a high-risk pregnancy is to keep your prenatal appointments. Consistent doctor supervision is vital to ensuring your child’s health and development.
Beyond medical care, you should try to maintain a healthy diet and take your prenatal vitamin every day. If your doctor okays exercise, make sure to treat your body gently.
Combatting anxiety and worry with practices like yoga or meditation may prove to be very beneficial. High-risk pregnancies tend to be stressful, so many doctors suggest expectant mothers keep their stress and anxiety levels under control as much as possible.
During your high-risk gestation, there’s a good chance your doctor will send you for specialized monitoring and testing. Some of the most common tests performed during these pregnancies are:
If your doctor believes your pregnancy is high-risk, please don’t fret. While certain considerations must be made to protect mother and baby, you stand a high chance of delivering a happy, healthy little one.
In the event of a high-risk pregnancy, the best thing a woman can do for herself is listen to her doctor.
It’s very important to reduce any stress and anxiety by being kind to yourself and gentle on your body. By allowing yourself the time to rest and simply enjoy your pregnancy, you’ll be paving the way to a healthy delivery of your baby.