If your pregnancy has been defined as high risk, there is no need to panic. The truth is, all pregnancies on some level are high risk; to grow another human being inside your body is a significant event! A high risk pregnancy status is a precautionary determination to make sure that any pre-existing risk factors you have, along with any you may develop during your pregnancy, are monitored closely to ensure both your baby’s safety and yours.
Our obstetrics team has successfully delivered over 10,000 babies, many of those deemed high risk. We’re trained to detect and evaluate situations hazardous throughout gestation, and equipped with the technology to do so.
Most of all, our tenet is to treat every pregnant patient the way we would want our loved ones treated.
What Is Considered a High Risk Pregnancy?
There are many factors that can designate a pregnancy as high risk. Some medical, physical or genetic influences may predispose you to being susceptible to certain problems. These are:
- High blood pressure
- Being overweight or underweight
- High blood pressure
- Heart, lung, or kidney disease
- Alcohol or illegal drug usage
- Age (under 17 or over 35)
- Multiple births
- History of miscarriage
- Family member or previous child with Down syndrome
- Infections such as HIV, chicken pox, rubella, toxoplasmosis, hepatitis C, syphilis
- Certain medications
- Chronic health issues such a lupus, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, heart valve abnormalities or sickle cell disease
- History of preterm labor or preeclampsia.
What Can You Do For Me If I Have Any of These High Risk Pregnancy Markers?
The first step is to establish a trusting relationship with you, taking the time to answer all your questions and concerns.
In many cases, just a few lifestyle modifications can ensure a safe, healthy pregnancy. Some of these changes can be as simple as speaking to our diet and nutrition experts, who will counsel you on a food and supplement regimen appropriate for your specific needs. We may schedule more frequent prenatal visits so that we can carefully monitor your progress, taking immediate steps to treat whatever problems might occur.
Your blood pressure will be watched closely. Blood and urine tests will be taken during every prenatal visit, along with any physical examinations or scans that may be indicated.
Our high risk obstetric specialists will evaluate any medications you might be taking, making adjustments as necessary to protect you and your child. If you suffer from pre-existing chronic conditions, we will work with you to minimize any arising difficulties.
We may monitor your pregnancy more frequently with ultrasounds and fetal monitoring.
Finally, we screen for genetic abnormalities, providing information, counsel, and advice if required.
If My Pregnancy is Normal, With No Pre-Existing Conditions, Will it Stay That Way?
Usually, but not always. This is why prenatal care appointments are so important for both you and your baby. You can develop complications at any time, placing you into a high risk pregnancy category. Again, don’t become alarmed. Our specialists have combined decades of experience and training to deal with that if it happens, and the earlier we detect something, the better. Here are some of the things we look for:
- Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM or gestational diabetes): High blood sugar sometimes develops during pregnancy, causing headaches, depression, high blood pressure, hydramnios (increased amniotic sac fluid), and birth defects. It can also increase the danger of preeclampsia and premature labor. Babies can grow too large, resulting in a need for a caesarean, and they may suffer from jaundice and low blood sugar after birth. We screen for this between your 24th and 28th week- earlier if your history warrants it.
- Preeclampsia: Preeclampsia causes persistent high blood pressure which can lead to organ damage and seizures, possibly requiring medication and/or early delivery. Routine urine testing at every prenatal visit can detect this, alerting us to rigidly monitor your progress.
- Rh factor: Rh is an inherited protein found in some blood. If yours differs from your baby’s, difficulties may arise. We routinely test for this incompatibility to safeguard the well-being of the fetus.
- Bleeding: Though not all bleeding is dangerous, if you’re deemed a high risk pregnancy, we follow up to make sure there is no jeopardy to you or your baby.
- hCG: (human chorionic gonadotropin): This substance not only confirms pregnancy, but analyzing levels regularly can indicate if you are at high risk for ectopic pregnancy, possible miscarriage, or a Down syndrome baby.
- Placenta previa: Sometimes the placenta covers the cervix, causing bleeding during delivery. Transvaginal ultrasound tests warn us beforehand if a caesarian is necessary.
- Fetal problems: Our 4D ultrasound and other equipment can detect complications or abnormalities before they become a problem.
- Premature labor: We can’t always predict if your baby will thumb its little nose at our calculated due date, but a previous history of early labor, a shortened cervix, or certain infections alert us to be vigilant of that possibility.
- Placental abruption: When the placenta separates or peels away from the uterine wall, the situation may become detrimental to both mother and baby. We always look out for this and other potential dangers.
Our hospital partner, Northside Hospital Cherokee, opens its new facility in early 2017, continuing to handle a full range of services for our patients with high risk pregnancies. Since 1993, Cherokee Women’s Health has delivered more babies at Northside Hospital Cherokee than all other OB practices combined.
Whether yours is a routine or high risk pregnancy, our highly qualified, expert providers pride themselves on giving you the best individual prenatal care necessary to ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy.
For an appointment, call us at 770.720.7733.