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A high-risk pregnancy is one in which certain conditions can put the mother, the developing foetus, or both, at a higher than normal risk of complications during the pregnancy or during the process of giving birth.
There’s a range of conditions that can lead to such a scenario.
Some pregnancies become high risk as they progress, while some women are at an increased risk of complications even before they get pregnant for a variety of reasons.
Some of the contributing factors toward a high risk pregnancy can include existing health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney problems, heart problems, previous history of adverse maternal foetal outcome (previous miscarriages, still-birth and any abnormalities in babies), intra-uterine growth problems, pregnancies with pre-eclampsia (a condition in which the woman gets high blood-pressure and high amounts of protein in her urine), pregnancies with fibroids or previous uterine surgeries.
Any of these medical conditions can threaten the health or life of the mother or her foetus and requires specialised care from an obstetrician who is well trained and has sufficient experience to deal with such complications. It is advisable for such women to enrol themselves early for regular prenatal care so that they have a healthy pregnancy and can deliver the baby without complications under the specialised care of an obstetrician who is well experienced with such cases.
One other thing that women who are pregnant or want to need to watch out for are obesity. This increases the risk for many of the issues that make a pregnancy high-risk. If a woman is obese, there’s a higher chance that in her pregnancy she might have to deal with health conditions including high blood pressure, pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, neural tube defects (birth defects of the brain, spine or spinal cord), still-birth and caesarean delivery.
Similarly, when a woman is pregnant with more than one child (twins or more) the risk of a complicated pregnancy is higher. Common complications include pre-eclampsia, premature birth and growth retardation of the babies, as well as a higher chance of delivering the babies via a caesarean section surgery.
The other category of women who can have high-risk pregnancies is those who are either very young (less than nineteen) or rather old (greater than 40) when they are pregnant.
So if you are in any of the categories listed above, it is advisable to:
• schedule a pre-conception appointment or early prenatal visit
• be cautious when using assisted reproductive technology like In-Vitro Fertilisation
• seek regular prenatal care
• eat a healthy diet
• gain weight wisely
• avoid risky substances (smoking, drinking etc.)
Consultant - Obstetrics and Gynecology