Pregnancy is a time of excitement in anticipation of a new arrival in your family.
However if you have a high-risk pregnancy, it can take a bit more active management. Even though a team of doctors, nurses and allied health staff will closely monitor you and your unborn baby, you can also stay involved in your care and management to help deliver a healthy baby.
What is a high-risk pregnancy?
A high-risk pregnancy means that your pregnancy has a greater chance of complications, which can put the health of your baby at risk.
Your risk for complications in pregnancy can be from lifestyle choices, such as smoking or drinking alcohol. However complications may be due to developing a medical condition during pregnancy (such as high blood pressure or diabetes), being underweight or overweight or your age.
Sometimes being pregnant can cause worsening of an existing medical condition that was stable and under control before pregnancy.
Other factors that can increase your risk in pregnancy can occur from the pregnancy itself, such as complications with your placenta (the organ connecting you to your baby), fertility problems or if you are carrying more than one baby.
Being pregnant means you will have regular medical appointments. However having a high-risk pregnancy means you will have even more appointments than usual with a variety of doctors who specialise in different areas of medicine related to your risk.
Your medical practitioners may organise extra tests, such as regular ultrasounds and blood pressure monitoring, for you.
Juggling all of these appointments can be challenging in your daily routine. It’s important to make sure you don’t skip any appointments during pregnancy.
Tip: Be prepared from early pregnancy for regular appointments, sometimes booked within the same week.
If you are currently taking medications for an existing medical condition, you may need to check whether they are safe to continue taking during your pregnancy.
Some medications can be harmful in pregnancy by crossing the placenta and entering your baby’s bloodstream. Your doctor may change your dosage or put your on alternatives.
If you develop a medical condition during your pregnancy, your doctor may prescribe vitamins, iron supplements or new medications to control the condition.
Tip: Make sure you don’t take new medications without consulting your medical practitioner first.
Prepare for a specific birth plan
A high-risk pregnancy may mean that you will need direction from your doctor for best method of delivery. For example, giving birth at home may be considered too risky and you may need to deliver your baby in a hospital setting.
If your baby’s health is considered at risk, you may have to plan for an early delivery. If you are induced to deliver your baby early it can mean a longer hospital stay.
When to seek help
Keep an eye out for any changes in your body or movement of your baby, as they can indicate a change in your baby’s health. For example, if you notice vaginal bleeding or reduced kicking, make sure you alert your doctor.
Speak to your doctor if you are feeling anxious or stressed. Your health affects your baby’s health, so it’s vital you take care of yourself during pregnancy.