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Navigating High-Risk Pregnancy

Expert Insights from Dr. Guy Skinner

The term “high-risk pregnancy” has become increasingly prevalent in recent years and whilst the idea of being classified as high-risk during pregnancy may seem daunting, there’s no reason to lose hope. 

High-risk pregnancies typically fall into one of two categories: those with pre-existing conditions that may affect the mother’s and baby’s health or those with complications that arise during the pregnancy. 

In this article, we will explore what qualifies as a high-risk pregnancy, the pre-existing conditions that can elevate risks, conditions that may emerge during pregnancy, and proactive steps to minimise risks, all with the expert guidance of Dr. Guy Skinner.

What Qualifies as a High-Risk Pregnancy?

High-risk pregnancies can originate from a number of different factors. Some may begin as high-risk due to the mother’s health, an undiagnosed condition, or a complex family history. Others may develop as the pregnancy unfolds due to factors like cervical weakness, gestational diabetes, or genetic disorders of the baby. To navigate this challenging journey successfully, it’s essential to ensure you have an experienced obstetrician, like Guy that you can trust, and be informed about any symptoms or concerns that may arise.

 Pre-Existing Conditions That Are High-Risk

Several pre-existing medical conditions can elevate the risk of a high-risk pregnancy. Some of these medical conditions include: 

  • Lupus
  • Diabetes
  • Thyroid issues
  • Blood disorders
  • Depression
  • Hypertension (elevated blood pressure)

There are also conditions that may require higher-than-normal monitoring during pregnancy, such as epilepsy, kidney disease, a history of preterm birth, pre-eclampsia, in vitro fertilisation (IVF), maternal age extremes, obesity, previous gynaecological issues, and fibroids.

In addition to these, high-risk conditions can begin during or because of the pregnancy, including placental problems, multiple births, gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia. While these conditions, combined with the natural stresses of pregnancy, pose potential risks, they don’t necessarily mean you will have a high-risk pregnancy.

Risks That Emerge During Pregnancy

Guy diligently monitors for specific conditions during pregnancy, irrespective of whether you have any pre-existing conditions. An example of some of these conditions are 

  • Recurrent bleeding/placenta previa (occurring in about 3% of pregnancies)
  • Elevated blood pressure/pre-eclampsia (affecting roughly 5% of pregnancies)
  • Gestational diabetes (impacting around 10% of pregnancies)
  • Foetal growth restriction/placental insufficiency (occurring in about 3% of pregnancies)

It’s crucial to be aware that if these conditions do manifest, early delivery might be necessary, and there’s an increased likelihood of requiring a caesarean section.

Specific High-Risk Areas

Three specific areas merit special attention due to their potential for higher-than-normal risks, although these risks do not guarantee complications for the baby:

  • IVF: IVF pregnancies have an increased chance of foetal abnormalities, premature birth, elevated blood pressure, recurrent bleeding, and stillbirth.
  • Older mothers: Advanced maternal age increases the risk of stillbirth, foetal anomalies, diabetes, caesarean section, elevated blood pressure, thrombosis, and cardiac complications.
  • Obesity: Being obese raises the risk of stillbirth, requiring a caesarean section, going past the due date, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

Things to Discuss with Guy Before Pregnancy

If you’re concerned about the potential for a high-risk pregnancy, Guy is here to help you every step of the way, all the way from pre-pregnancy to birth. During a preconception consultation, he will review your complete medical history and provide guidance on minimising your risk factors. 

Key steps to minimise risks include:

  • Making healthy lifestyle choices: Quit smoking and limit alcohol consumption.
  • Reducing stress where possible.
  • Taking recommended vitamins like folic acid and iron supplements.
  • Achieving a healthy weight if you’re underweight or overweight.

Additionally, Guy might recommend a pre-pregnancy assessment to gauge the level of monitoring required during pregnancy. This assessment also helps determine if you’ll need advanced care resources during childbirth, including access to 24/7 emergency operating facilities, neonatal intensive care, and specialised nursery care.

A high-risk pregnancy doesn’t necessarily mean an impossible journey. With the guidance and expertise of an expert like Guy, you can navigate the challenges with optimism, informed choices, and a focus on your and your baby’s health. 

Guy’s commitment to your well-being ensures that, despite the challenges, you can look forward to a safe and healthy pregnancy.