What Makes a High-Risk Pregnancy?

If you plan to have a baby, or you’re already pregnant, are you aware of the potential risks?   

All pregnant women want a safe and risk-free pregnancy, and so long as you are healthy, there is a good chance that everything will go smoothly. Unfortunately, however, there are always some risks, and a high-risk pregnancy can affect the health and welfare of both mother and baby.   

Every woman should know what makes a pregnancy high-risk before they get pregnant, and they should also know what to look for while they’re pregnant in order to mitigate problems as quickly as possible.

You should always go through the risks with your OBGYN or midwife as they will vary from person to person and may not all be listed here. However, here are the more common factors that may put a pregnancy in the high-risk category.     

Pregnancy-Related Health Conditions

There are two specific conditions women develop during a pregnancy that can create a high-risk pregnancy as well as exacerbate other risks: gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. Some women who fall into higher risk categories (such as age) are more prone to these conditions.

Gestational diabetes is a type that develops during pregnancy. It can be managed with a proper treatment plan and diet. However, if not controlled, there is a higher risk for pregnancy and delivery problems.

Preeclampsia is characterized by high blood pressure and can affect various organs in the mother’s body. If you do not get treatment for this condition, it can lead to serious health problems for both mother and baby.

Age Affects Pregnancy Risks

In general, a woman is more prone to a high-risk pregnancy if she is in her teens or over 35.

Women in their teens have a higher potential for various risk factors including preeclampsia, gestational high blood pressure, early labor, and complications related to STDs. After age 35, the possibility for infertility increases as do the potential pregnancy risks.

Research shows older women are more likely to need a cesarean and are more likely to have problems during labor or a long labor. The risk of having a child with genetic disorders also increases as a woman ages.

That being said, it’s essential that women understand that a perfectly healthy pregnancy and delivery is possible after age 35, so long as the mother is healthy.

Multiple Births

Pregnancy with more than one baby is automatically riskier than a single-birth, no matter what other risk factors are present, and this risk multiplies depending on the number of babies. Complications like preeclampsia, early labor, and premature births are common for those carrying multiples.   

General (Pre-existing) Health Conditions  

Many different health problems can result in higher risk pregnancies. If you are pregnant or considering it, your OBGYN should give you a thorough assessment in any case.

Standard tests from your healthcare provider should cover the areas that need to be checked for a high-risk pregnancy, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and STDs. Still, you need to let them know of any conditions that could potentially affect the baby including addiction (tobacco and alcohol use) or mental health issues.  

High blood pressure, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), diabetes, kidney disease, autoimmune diseases (including HIV/AIDS), thyroid disease, and infertility are all conditions to bring to a doctor’s attention.

Being Overweight (Obese) or Underweight

Because obesity puts mothers at risk for more health problems, these health conditions (such as high blood pressure) may be exacerbated during pregnancy. Generally, carrying excess weight will lead to a potentially more difficult pregnancy in many ways. But it’s worth noting that women who are severely underweight may face various complications as well.  

Obesity-related risks during pregnancy include high blood pressure, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, stillbirth, tube defects, depression, and even surgical infection. Early births and miscarriages tend to happen more often in obese individuals as well.  

Talk to Your OBGYN

Whether or not your pregnancy is classified as higher risk, it’s vital that you discuss your situation regularly with your OBGYN. Often, with proper treatment plans, risk factors can be mitigated, and a healthy pregnancy is possible.

But it’s important to recognize that, even if you aren’t in a high-risk category, certain health complications can develop during pregnancy. Stay up to date with your OBGYN or midwife so that you can mitigate risks where possible.

 

If you have more questions or feel that you might have a high-risk pregnancy, contact us today us to schedule an appointment with an OBGYN.

Increase Your Chances to Have a VBAC

If you’re a mother who wants more kids, and you previously opted for a C-section for an earlier delivery, you may be considering a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC).Many women want this and, contrary to what was often recommended by doctors in the past, it’s very possible. It may very well lessen the complications of those associated with surgery, and it may also shorten recovery time.

Many women who’ve had a C-section want to deliver naturally with their next child. It’s possible, and some women aren’t even aware. If you’re pregnant now or want to become pregnant in the future, and you’re wondering if a VBAC is possible, here’s some more information.

About VBACs

In the past, the “normal” assumption made by OBGYNs and other professionals was that the safest option for pregnant women who had previously undergone C-sections was another C-section.

These days, some 60-80 percent of women are able to have a successful VBAC, even if they have had one or more C-sections in the past.

A VBAC isn’t possible for everyone, however. The risk factors, to some extent, depend on a woman’s unique risk profile as well as what type of assessment is done by the OBGYN or midwife. To learn more about if you’re a good candidate for a VBAC, you can read our blog about it here.

Planning Ahead to Determine if VBAC is an Option for This Pregnancy

Recovery from C-sections can be lengthy for a number of reasons, including complications having to do with scar tissue. Because of this, one of the critical planning recommendations for those who are looking for a non-C-section birth the second time around is that you space the births out with enough time for recovery.

You’re a good candidate if previous deliveries and current signs point to a safe vaginal delivery. For instance, if you have had a baby vaginally in the past, and your current baby is in a head-down position, VBAC could be a good option for your next delivery.

However, if your last C-section was recent, if you have a large baby, if your previous C-section took place due to certain medical reasons, if you are carrying multiples, if you have a uterine scar, or if your baby is expected to be delivered in an unusual position, VBAC will not be recommended.

Your Current Health and Birth History

No matter what is happening with your pregnancy, taking care of your health is of utmost importance and is the best way to ensure that your delivery is safe and healthy. Thus, it’s vital that you do what you can through lifestyle and diet to stay in good shape.

However, it’s also important to recognize some factors that could put you at risk in the case of a VBAC are not your fault, so if you find out you don’t qualify, don’t be hard on yourself.

The most important thing is to keep track of your birth history and discuss options before you have your first baby about whether or not a C-section is optional.

Obesity, blood pressure, and stress are a few key factors determining the outcome of any pregnancy and delivery, as well as the health of the mother, so always take extra care if you are pregnant or wanting to conceive.

If You Have Uterine Ruptures

Uterine scar ruptures need to be understood and examined in the case of VBACs. Though most cesarean incisions are not likely to rupture and affect births in the future, it’s essential that you have this discussion with your medical professional.

Uterine ruptures are possible and are a key reason why it’s recommended that women do not have VBACs. However, there is less than a one percent chance that this will happen.

Get Support

When it comes to VBACs, the truth is that not all healthcare practitioners will be supportive of this type of practice. It’s encouraged to turn to support groups in your area or even online, find prenatal VBAC classes, and seek out other people in the same situation for support.

However, if you have the support of a trusted midwife or doula, as well as other healthcare professionals, you will be able to receive proper guidance and support when it comes to your VBAC.

Would you like to learn more about VBACs and how to improve your chances of having this type of delivery? Contact us today and schedule an appointment with an OBGYN to learn more about VBAC and your options for delivery.

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