Many women look forward to having a baby. Most are lucky to undergo a smooth, hassle-free pregnancy; they’ll never forget the experience as a scary but beautiful one. But some aren’t as lucky. Their bodies can turn against them, making them a candidate for high-risk pregnancy.
A high-risk pregnancy is when an expectant mother may be more likely to develop complications. The baby in their womb is also at risk for congenital disabilities. While a high-risk pregnancy doesn’t automatically result in the worst, it can make the whole journey rough, with the hardships continuing until the end of the pregnancy.
Some women who know that they’re a candidate for high-risk pregnancy choose not to have a baby. Others only find out about their condition when they’re already with a child. A few, particularly young mothers, don’t even know what a high-risk pregnancy is. This article will discuss what makes a woman susceptible to it and their options to maintain their health.
Factors Contributing to a High-risk Pregnancy
A pregnancy may be considered high-risk if a woman is:
- Below 17 years old or above 35 years old — A woman’s body is most fit for pregnancy in her late teens to early 30s. Having a baby below 17 years old or above 35 years old makes her more likely to develop complications. The risk of miscarriage and genetic disorders increases when a woman gives birth after 40 years old.
- Suffering from a medical condition before getting pregnant — Women with conditions, such as high blood pressure, lung, kidney, or heart problems, autoimmune disease, long-term chronic infections, etc., can make their health worse if they conceive. Without medication, both she and the baby can experience complications.
- Had miscarried before — A history of miscarriage makes women likely to miscarry once more if they get pregnant again.
- Has a family history of genetic disorders — Like many other diseases, genetic conditions can also be passed on through DNA.
- Depressed — Poor mental health puts the mother and baby at risk. Some medications for depression may be unsafe for pregnant women, but they should consult their therapist before switching medications.
- Obese — Obesity puts a pregnant woman at risk of gestational diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure. If she doesn’t experience complications, she might not be able to give birth normally instead, giving her no other choice but to undergo a C-section.
A healthy pregnancy may turn into high-risk due to these conditions, which can be developed during the pregnancy:
The causes of preeclampsia aren’t discovered yet. But luckily, early diagnosis and treatment can make most women give birth to healthy babies even with preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a syndrome that causes high blood pressure, high levels of protein in the urine, and swelling during pregnancy. Women above 35 years old who are overweight or have high blood pressure or diabetes before conceiving are at high risk for this condition.
Conceiving twins or more puts strain on a woman’s body. But it’s the unborn babies who will suffer the effects. They may develop complications or be born early.
Other Risk Factors
Women who drink, smoke, or use substances will also have higher chances of experiencing high-risk pregnancies. Alcohol increases a baby’s risk of being stillborn or born with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). Smoking can cause early labor or growth defects in the baby. Meanwhile, substance abuse can also cause early labor, growth defects, birth defects, and low birth weight.
Can High-risk Pregnancy be Prevented?
With a doctor’s help, most high-risk pregnancies can proceed without major problems. Some cases may not be prevented, but the condition’s effects can be reduced. One of the best preventive and defensive measures is a healthy diet. Women should fill up with the following when they’re expecting:
- Dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt)
- Whole grains
- Legumes (lentils, peas, beans, chickpeas, etc.)
- Sweet potatoes
- Broccoli and dark, leafy greens
- Lean meat and proteins
- Fish liver oil
- Dried Fruit
Taking health supplements and maintaining an active lifestyle will also help. Pregnant women must also stay on track with their prenatal appointments. The earlier a potential complication is spotted, the higher its chances of being prevented or treated.
Women who conceived unplanned, and those with a high risk of dying if they continue the pregnancy, may also choose to undergo a medicated or surgical abortion. Medicated abortion can be carried out through safe abortion pills. However, it’s only for women who are ten weeks pregnant at most. Women who are farther along their pregnancy should opt for surgery.
Terminating a pregnancy due to complications is heartbreaking, but women deserve the choice to protect themselves from further health problems. Besides, if a woman isn’t faring well with the pregnancy, chances are their unborn baby is suffering too. Hence, if they can’t prevent the worst of their high-risk pregnancy, women should choose their health and realize that it isn’t simply their time to have a baby yet.