to High Risk Pregnancies
What is the definition of a high risk pregnancy?
There is no formal or universally accepted definition of a "high-risk" pregnancy. Generally, however, it’s a broad term applied to any woman who faces a higher-than-average risk of complications during pregnancy or delivering a baby with health concerns.
It doesn’t mean your pregnancy won’t progress normally or your baby won’t arrive healthy!!
Certain conditions or characteristics, called risk factors, make a pregnancy high risk. Doctors identify these factors and use a scoring system to determine the degree of risk for a particular woman. Identifying high-risk pregnancies ensures that women who most need medical care receive it.
Some prenatal problems that may require consultation or transfer to a high-risk prenatal doctor include the following:
• High Blood Pressure
• Toxemia (PIH, preeclampsia, eclampsia or HELLP syndrome)
• Diabetes and gestational diabetes
• Heart, thyroid, lung or kidney disease
• Epilepsy or other seizure disorders
• Blood clot history
• Premature Labor
• Early rupture of membranes (bag of waters)
• Vaginal bleeding especially in the 2nd or 3rd trimester
• Poor fetal growth
• Low or high amniotic fluid
• Multiple pregnancy (twins, triplets)
• Previous pregnancy problems
• Mothers younger than age 15 or older than 35
• Mental health problems
• Drug use
• Severe obesity
• Abnormal fetal heartbeat
• Rh factor problems
• Placental problems
For more information on the above mentioned risk factors, see the High Risk Resource links Sticky.
The Challenges of a high risk-pregnancy
If your doctor labels you high-risk, other than freaking out, what can you do?
First, many experts say, don’t be intimidated by the label. Ultimately, it’s your life, your pregnancy and your baby. Find out why you’ve been placed in this category, the risk factors and what you can do.
Knowledge is power in this situation and the more accurate information you have, the better decisions you can make
You may be under the care of perinatologists, experts in managing problems of mothers and unborn babies, and they will work closely with your own doctor to do everything possible to make sure you and your baby remain healthy.
If your health-care provider isn’t forthcoming, it may be time to look for a new one – one who listens, as well as offers information and advice
You have the RIGHT to expect extra attention from your doctor office. They should have a clear undertstanding of the fears and extend you the courtesy of a listening ear
When it comes to doing your own research, go online and research reputable medical sites, like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (www.ACOG.org). Be sure to review your findings with your doctor at your next visit. Knowing concrete facts (instead of focusing on the “what-ifs”) will give you the power to be involved, as well as peace of mind.
Keys to Coping
In some high-risk pregnancies, it’s not unusual to be ordered on to bed rest or even a mandatory hospital stay. Keeping your routine as normal as possible will go a long way in reducing your overall stress level. While staying in the hospital is sometimes unavoidable, research proves that bed rest at home is less stressful and often a better alternative. Home-care nurses can help organize appointments, find resources and provide prenatal education.
If a hospital stay is required, be your own advocate and ask for daily reports so you know what’s happening and why. Keep your spirits up by bathing daily, wearing your street clothes (if possible) and spending time enjoying quiet activities.
For some women, stress during pregnancy can be a positive motivator. A high-risk label can lead to finally finding a good enough reason to start paying attention to poor lifestyle or health-care choices.
Being ordered to stay in bed, watch movies and generally lie around all day may sound like a dream – until you’ve done it for three months with another three ahead of you.
While being over-the-moon happy about your pregnancy, health issues can quickly transform bliss into nine long months of constant worry .
Unfortunately, no one can promise you a perfect pregnancy, or a perfect baby, no matter how “normal” your pregnancy. Remember, the high-risk label isn’t a self-fulfilling prophecy, and it doesn’t take away your ability to stay informed, make healthy choices and seek adequate prenatal care.
It’s easy to let your imagination run wild, but staying grounded and doing everything in your power will give your baby – and you – the very best odds of a successful pregnancy outcome
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