A high-risk pregnancy might pose challenges before, during or after delivery. If you have a high-risk pregnancy, you and your baby might need special monitoring or care throughout your pregnancy. Understand what causes a high-risk pregnancy, and what you can do to take care of yourself and your baby.
Sometimes a high-risk pregnancy is the result of a medical condition present before pregnancy. In other cases, a medical condition that develops during pregnancy for either mom or baby causes a pregnancy to become high risk.
Specific factors that might contribute to a high-risk pregnancy include:
Whether you know ahead of time that you’ll have a high-risk pregnancy or you simply want to do whatever you can to prevent a high-risk pregnancy, stick to the basics. For example:
If you have a high-risk pregnancy, you might consider various tests or procedures in addition to routine prenatal screening tests. Depending on the circumstances, your health care provider might recommend:
This test, also known as percutaneous umbilical blood sampling, is a highly specialized prenatal test in which a fetal blood sample is removed from the umbilical cord. Typically done after week 18 of pregnancy, the test can identify chromosomal conditions, blood disorders, and infections.
Cervical length measurement :
Your health care provider might use an ultrasound to measure the length of your cervix at prenatal appointments to determine if you’re at risk of preterm labor.
Lab tests :
Your health care provider might take a swab of your vaginal secretions to check for fetal fibronectin — a substance that acts like a glue between the fetal sac and the lining of the uterus. The presence of fetal fibronectin might be a sign of preterm labor.
Biophysical profile :
This prenatal test is used to check on a baby’s well-being. The test combines fetal heart rate monitoring (nonstress test) and fetal ultrasound.
Some prenatal diagnostic tests — such as amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling — carry a small risk of pregnancy loss. Ultimately, the decision to pursue prenatal testing is up to you and your partner. Discuss the risks and benefits with your health care provider.