MEDICAL MONDAYS NEWS NOTES
Connie Graves, MD, Maternal Fetal Medicine
TOPIC: High Risk Pregnancy
Monday, April 7, 2008
High-Risk Pregnancy - Overview
Your pregnancy is called high-risk if you or your baby has an increased chance of a health problem. Many things can put you at high risk. Being called "high-risk" may sound scary. But it's just a way for doctors to make sure that you get special attention during your pregnancy. Your doctor will watch you closely during your pregnancy to find any problems early.
The conditions listed below put you and your baby at a higher risk for problems, such as slowed growth for the baby, preterm labor, preeclampsia, and problems with the placenta. But it's important to remember that being at high risk doesn't mean that you or your baby will have problems.
Your health plan may have its own list of what makes a pregnancy high-risk. In general, your pregnancy may be high-risk if:
Other health problems can make your pregnancy high-risk. These include heart valve problems, sickle cell disease,asthma, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis. Talk to your doctor about any health problems you have.
How will your doctor care for you during your pregnancy?
You will have more visits to the doctor than a woman who does not have a high-risk pregnancy. You may have more ultrasound tests to make sure that your baby is growing well. You will have regular blood pressure checks. And your urine will be tested to look for protein (a sign of preeclampsia) and urinary tract infections.
Tests for genetic or other problems also may be done, especially if you are 35 or older or you had a genetic problem in a past pregnancy.
Your doctor will prescribe any medicine you may need, such as for diabetes, asthma, or high blood pressure.
Talk to your doctor about where he or she would like you to give birth. Your doctor may want you to have your baby in a hospital that offers special care for women and babies who may have problems.
If your doctor thinks that your health or your baby's health is at risk, you may need to have the baby early.
What type of doctor will you see for a high-risk pregnancy?
Some women will see a doctor who has extra training in high-risk pregnancies. These doctors are called maternal-fetal specialists, or perinatologists. You may see this doctor and your regular doctor. Or the specialist may be your doctor throughout your pregnancy.
What can you do to help have a healthy pregnancy?
You can help yourself and your baby be as healthy as possible:
Your doctor may ask you to keep track of how much your baby moves every day. One way to do this is to note how much time it takes to feel 10 movements.
What symptoms should you watch for?
Like any pregnant woman, you need to watch for any signs of problems. This doesn't mean that you will have any problems. But if you have any of these symptoms, it's important to get care quickly.
Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you think you need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor now or seek medical care right away if: