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How to Deal With High Risk Pregnancies

Posted by Johnson Memorial Health on Jun 14, 2017

Before picking out names or decorating a nursery, you need to consider the health of you and your baby before you become pregnant.

According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, up to 10 percent of pregnancies in the United States can be considered high risk.

A preconception evaluation can help your doctor determine if you could have a High Risk Pregnancy – a condition with the potential to cause health issues or even death for the mother and/or child.


Primary Causes

According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, High Risk Pregnancies often occur when patients are:

Coping with existing health conditions. High blood pressure, diabetes or immune system deficiencies can compromise a baby’s development or threaten the mother.

Overweight and obese. Obesity increases the risk for high blood pressure, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, stillbirth, neural tube defects and cesarean delivery. Researchers have found that obesity can raise infants' risk of heart problems at birth by 15 percent.

Giving multiple births. The risk of complications is higher in women carrying more than one fetus (twins). Common complications include preeclampsia, premature labo and preterm birth. More than half of all twins and as many as 93 percent of triplets are born at less than 37 weeks of gestation.

Younger or older than typical maternal age. Pregnancy in teens and women aged 35 or over increases the risk for preeclampsia and gestational high blood pressure.

Taking certain medicines. Lithium, phenytoin (such as Dilantin), valproic acid (Depakene), or carbamazepine (such as Tegretol) are known drugs that can cause premature deliveries.

Women who have at least three previous miscarriages or have a family history of genetic issues with the heart, lung or kidney also should take precautions.  

Minimizing Risks

Prenatal care can minimize those risks and help with successful deliveries. Here are some other tips to mitigate issues related to High Risk Pregnancies:

  • Stay at a healthy weight by eating a low-fat, high-fiber diet.

  • Get regular exercise.

  • Have your thyroid checked before getting pregnant. Women who have untreated thyroid disease are more likely to deliver prematurely.

  • Get screened for bacterial vaginosis, which has been linked to premature birth.

  • Do yoga or meditation. There is a link between high levels of stress hormones and preterm delivery rates.

  • Ask your doctor about progesterone shots, which may reduce the risk of premature birth by almost 20 percent if you have delivered before or have a history of premature deliveries in your family.

  • Avoid having x-rays.

  • Eliminate drinking alcohol or taking over-the-counter drugs, without first consulting with your doctor.

  • Stay away from people who have colds or other illnesses throughout your pregnancy.

  • Ask your doctor about taking vitamins or iron supplements if you have any deficiencies. A simple blood test can help determine if you need them.

  • Ask your doctor about taking folic acid (Vitamin B) supplements. Research has shown this helps reduce chances of having a baby with certain defects.

Your obstetrician and other healthcare providers will guide you through a High Risk Pregnancy. You should follow their orders and ask questions.

For more information about High Risk Pregnancies, contact the Johnson Memorial Women’s Health Specialists in Franklin at 317.738.0630 or Whiteland at 317.530.3111.


Topics: Birth, Maternity Care