Being pregnant and being responsible as a mother to care a baby is a tough task for a woman in her whole life as she suffers lots of problems related to her health and other aspects (socially, physically, mentally, emotionally and intellectually). And what if she already suffers or develops any risk during her pregnancy, she becomes very hopeless and weak both physically and mentally.

We would discuss in this article all the aspects related to the high risk pregnancy (such as what is high risk pregnancy, what are high risks during pregnancy, signs and symptoms of high risk pregnancy, risk factors for high-risk pregnancy, how to manage high risk pregnancy, tests during high risk pregnancy, etc) in order to help a woman suffering from the same.

What is High Risk Pregnancy

A pregnancy is called high risk pregnancy if a woman or her baby develops any chance of getting health problems. Women suffering from high risks during their pregnancy need some special attention by the doctor throughout the pregnancy. Pregnant women having high risk must keep themselves under close watch of the gynaecologist. Some of the high risks during pregnancy involve slow growth of baby, preterm labour, placental problems, preeclampsia, etc.

What are High Risks during Pregnancy

Some of the examples of the high risks during pregnancy are mentioned below which a pregnant woman must take care throughout her pregnancy and follow all the instructions and prescriptions given by her doctor in order to make her pregnancy safe, easy baby delivery and give birth to a healthy baby. A woman may have high risk pregnancy if she already suffers or develops following during her pregnancy:

  • High blood pressure
  • Obese
  • Overweight
  • Underweight
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Suffering from tuberculosis
  • Kidney disease or disorder
  • Epilepsy
  • Use to of alcohol or illegal drugs
  • Smoking habits
  • Woman younger than 17
  • Woman older than 35 or 40
  • Having multiple pregnancy means pregnant with more than one baby.
  • Previous history of having three or more miscarriages.
  • Having family history of genetic conditions like Down syndrome, heart ailments, lungs disorder, kidney problem, etc.
  • Women having past history of preterm labour.
  • Women suffering from preeclampsia or seizures (eclampsia).
  • Women suffering from HIV, hepatitis A, B, C or some other infections like toxoplasmosis, chickenpox, syphilis, cytomegalovirus, rubella, etc.
  • Women getting medicines like phenytoin, lithium, valproic acid, carbamazepine, Tegretol, etc.
  • Women suffering from health problems including asthma, sickle cell disease, heart valve problems, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, arthritis, etc.
  • Women suffering from urinary tract infections

Signs and Symptoms of High Risk Pregnancy

Some of the signs and symptoms which high risk pregnant women see and feel all through the pregnancy:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Severe pain and cramps around belly or pelvis regions
  • Vaginal leaking of white liquid
  • Severe vaginal bleeding
  • Bulging out of the umbilical cord into vagina
  • Vision problems like dimness or blurring
  • Low back pain and feeling of pelvic pressure
  • Severe headache
  • Swelling of face, hands and feet
  • Persistent headache
  • Occurrence of fever
  • Regular contractions with or without pain
  • Tightening sensation in abdomen
  • Sudden fluid release from vagina
  • Lower abdomen pain and cramps
  • Pain or burning sensation while urination
  • Slow or loss of baby movements

Risk Factors for High-Risk Pregnancy

Some of the risk factors which may involve in leading a pregnant woman towards high risk pregnancy are mentioned below:

Maternal Age: The age of a woman getting or planning to be pregnant is most important. She may suffer high risk pregnancy whether she under 17 or over 35 of age. Her baby has high risk of getting complications in both teens and late 30s. She develops risk of miscarriage and higher chance of genetic defects in baby.

Some Medical conditions existing before getting pregnant: A woman already suffering or having family history of some medical conditions like high blood pressure, breathing difficulty, disorder of kidney, heart ailments, diabetes, autoimmune disease, sexually transmitted diseases and chronic infections may get high risk pregnancy.

  • Medical history: A woman having past medical history C-section, low baby birth weight, preterm birth, baby with genetic disorder, baby death shortly after birth, etc is highly prone to have risks during pregnancy.
  • Underlying chronic conditions: Woman already suffering from the chronic diseases such as diabetes, epilepsy, high blood pressure, anemia, infection, etc may put her at high risk during pregnancy in future.
  • Kidney disease: A woman with kidney disease gets more difficulty in continuing pregnancy and put herself at high risk for miscarriage.
  • Autoimmune disease: Women with history of autoimmune diseases like lupus, multiple sclerosis, etc are more prone to risks during pregnancy like preterm birth, stillbirth etc.
  • Thyroid disease: Women having problems in thyroid gland functioning (overactive or underactive thyroid gland) may develop risk to their baby such as heart failure, poor weight, birth defects, etc.
  • Lifestyle: Some bad life style of a woman may lead her towards high risk pregnancy in the future. A woman use to of smoking cigarettes, alcohol, illegal drugs, lack of physical activities, etc may get high risk during pregnancy.
  • Infertility: Women getting treatment of infertility problem are at high risk in future during pregnancy like placenta problems and vaginal bleeding.
  • Obesity: Obese women have more problems in continuing their pregnancy and suffer lots of complications.
  • HIV/AIDS: Women suffering from HIV/AIDS do not have ability to fight with infections and cancer as HIV damages immune cells and weakens body immune system. HIV virus passes to the fetus during pregnancy.
  • Teen pregnancy: Getting pregnant in teen age puts a woman at risk of high blood pressure, anemia preterm labour, sexually transmitted infection, etc.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis: Women suffering from the rheumatoid arthritis are at high risk to have pregnancy as she may get lots of complications during pregnancy.

Some Medical conditions that women develop during pregnancy: It does not matter that if a woman is healthy she would not get any medical problem during her pregnancy. Any women can get common pregnancy related problems which are:

  • Preeclampsia: She may suffer preeclampsia which is a syndrome showing symptoms of high blood pressure, occurrence of protein through urine, swelling, etc. It is very serious problem and need to be treated well otherwise it may be fatal to both mother and baby.
  • Gestational diabetes: It is a type of diabetes which women develop during their pregnancy and generally subsides after baby delivery however; need to be taken care of seriously all through the pregnancy.
  • Pregnancy complications: Some pregnancy complications like problems in uterus, cervix, placenta, severe morning sickness (also called hyperemesis gravidarum) continues after first trimester high level of amniotic fluid (means polyhydramnios), low level of amniotic fluid (means oligohydramnios), intrauterine foetal growth retardation, woman with Rh negative blood group and baby with Rh positive blood group, etc put a woman at high risk pregnancy.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome. It is a serious disorder when woman lost her ability to get pregnant or stay pregnant. Such women are highly prone to the miscarriage (spontaneous loss of fetus before 20 weeks), preeclampsia, premature delivery, gestational diabetes, etc.

Pregnancy related issues: Some of the pregnancy related issues also involves in high risk pregnancy which are mentioned below:

  • Premature labour: It is called premature labour when a woman starts labour pain before 37 weeks of pregnancy which make her at higher risk of getting infections, etc.
  • Multiple births: It is called multiple births a woman carries more than one baby and gives birth to twins, triplets or even quadruplets. It is very common among women getting more infertility treatment and thus develops high risk of premature labour, pregnancy induced high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, etc.
  • Placenta previa: It is a condition in which placenta comes down through uterus into the cervix which cause bleeding during contractions. It leads a woman for having caesarean section option in order to reduce risks to both mother and baby.
  • Foetal problems: Some foetal problems also involve in high risk pregnancies which are generally detected during ultrasound.
  • Overdue pregnancy: It is the condition when woman does not get contractions even after completion of the due date and she continues pregnancy long beyond the due date.

How to Manage High Risk Pregnancy

We have discussed below about some tips to manage high risk pregnancy:

  • A woman who already knows about her health problems must go for the proper treatment under authorized physician before planning her pregnancy. She must go through the common tests to get sure about the condition.
  • She must follow the doctor prescriptions and instructions to get control on problems like diabetes, anaemia, obesity, asthma, high blood pressure, etc.
  • If a woman is pregnant with high risk she must follow all the instructions given by doctor about her health and due date. There may be need to deliver baby before term to prevent risk to both mother and baby.
  • Proper antenatal visit must be done to control the severity of case in future.
  • Follow a healthy diet pattern given by doctor (diet having proper protein, milk, milk products, green leafy vegetables, fruits, folic acid vitamins etc).
  • Follow proper healthy life style and little exercise daily to get fit physically and emotionally.
  • Daily intake of folic acid and other B group vitamins is very necessary to prevent birth defects in baby.
  • Get rid of all the bad habits like alcohol drinking, smoking, tobacco use, drugs use, heavy medicine, etc few months before getting pregnant to reduce the risk of getting high risk pregnancy.
  • It is good to have some distance from the people suffering from cold, cough and other infections.
  • Go for proper immunization, maintain healthy diet and weight management play great role in overcoming with high risk pregnancy.
  • Discuss in detail with your doctor about your past and family history of health disorder before getting pregnant.
  • Never treat yourself alone and different than others in the society as it happens to anybody anytime. Try to be happy by talking to someone who understand your problems or join some comedy classes to busy yourself. Morning walk, meditation, yoga, laugh, etc are also good to beat negative thinking.

Tests during High Risk Pregnancy

You may be instructed to go through some tests by your doctor which is must to get sure and free of problems before or during pregnancy. Some of are:

  • You may be asked to go through one or more than one ultrasound to get proper details about the problems.
  • Chorionic villus sampling can be done in which sample of placental cell is taken to detect the genetic conditions of baby.
  • Cervical length measurement is another test which is done through the ultrasound in which length of cervix is measured to get idea about risk of preterm labour.
  • You can be asked for the test of fluid from vaginal secretion in order to check foetal fibronectin to detect the risk of preterm labour.
  • Amniocentesis can be done during pregnancy to have sample of the amniotic fluid to analyse the genetic condition of baby as well as detecting birth defects like brain or spinal cord disorders.
  • Other tests are blood test (for haemoglobin count, WBC, glucose, etc), foetal heart rate monitoring, urine test (for sugar, infection, etc), etc can be done.
  • Cordocentesis can also be done (sample of umbilical cord blood is taken) to analyse any type of infection, chromosomal conditions or blood disorders in baby.