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High Risk Pregnancy

“High-risk pregnancy” is a term we are hearing more and more. 

While there are many reasons you may be in a high-risk category, there is no reason to believe you shouldn’t be optimistic about having a great pregnancy.

High-risk pregnancies are classified as high-risk for one of two reasons.
Pre-existing conditions – those things we know might affect your health and your baby’s health during pregnancy.
Problems arising during the pregnancy – either due to a pre-existing condition or an issue that arises from IVF, an unknown medical issue or a congenital issue with the baby.

Just because you have a pre-existing condition, doesn’t automatically mean your pregnancy will pose a risk to you or your baby. But it is worth talking to an experienced specialist, like Dr Guy Skinner, before trying to fall pregnant. So, you go into the experience as confidently as possible.

Guy has over 20 years’ experience with all types of pregnancies, and has the experience to help you understand if you should be concerned before you fall pregnant, what steps you can take to ensure the best possible result for you and your baby, and how to deal with any issues that arise.

It all comes down to your health, and your baby’s health. We focus on keeping you as healthy as possible throughout the pregnancy, which is better for the baby. Helping you understand the possible implications of any existing medical condition you’re worried about. And making sure, if your pregnancy does become a high risk, your health and your baby’s health remain our focus.

There are many different reasons why a pregnancy may be considered high-risk.

It may start as a high-risk pregnancy due to the health of the mother, an unknown condition the mother may have, or because there is a specific family history which makes it hard to carry a baby full term.

It may develop as the pregnancy unfolds. This could be due to any number of things such as cervical weakness, gestational diabetes or a genetic disorder of the baby.

Some of these can be addressed before you fall pregnant, and some will need to be addressed as they appear.

It’s important to engage an obstetrician you can trust and to ensure, whoever they are, you keep them informed of any symptoms you may experience or any concerns you may have.

There are a lot of different reasons why you may be at risk of developing a high-risk pregnancy. These can include significant pre-existing medical conditions such as:

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

There are other issues which we know about before the pregnancy, which require higher than normal monitoring, like:

  • Epilepsy
  • Kidney disease
  • Having had a previous pre-term birth
  • Pre-eclampsia growth restriction
  • IVF
  • Maternal age – being too young or too old
  • Obesity
  • Previous gynaecology problems
  • Fibroids – depending on size and position
  • The shape of your uterus
  • Previous major gynaecological surgery
  • Lifestyle choices – alcohol consumption and / drugs

And, there are high-risk conditions which can appear during the pregnancy, including

  • Placental problems
  • Multiple births
  • Gestational diabetes

All these conditions, when combined with the natural health impact from a pregnancy, can have potential risks. But may not stop you having a bay. 

If you do suffer from any of these pre-existing conditions, or develop a high-risk condition, we believe constant monitoring of your health, and your baby’s health, is imperative.

Please book a time to talk to Guy before trying to fall pregnant to discuss ways to potentially minimise these risks.

There are five conditions which Guy will monitor you for during your pregnancy – whether you fall into any of the above categories or not. These are issues which are not apparent before you become pregnant, but which can affect your pregnancy. These are: 

  • Fetal abnormality – which affects approximately 3% of all pregnancies
  • Recurrent bleeding/placenta praevia – which occurs in approximately 3% of all pregnancies
  • Elevated blood pressure/pre-eclampsia – which affects approximately 5% of all pregnancies
  • Gestational diabetes – which affects approximately 10% of all pregnancies
  • Fetal growth restriction/placental insufficiency – which occurs in approximately 3% of all pregnancies

Please be aware, should you develop these conditions, an early birth could be required. There is also an increased chance you’ll need a caesarean section.

There are three specific areas which can present higher than normal risks and deserve special attention. Please note, simply falling into these categories does not automatically mean your baby’s health will be affected. But the risks should be recognised. These areas are:

  • IVF
  • Being an older mum
  • Being obese

We monitor IVF pregnancies because there is an increased chance for fetal abnormalities, premature birth, elevated blood pressure, recurrent bleeding, still birth.

Older mums can have increased risks of having a still birth, fetal anomaly, diabetes, caesarean section, elevated blood pressure/hypertension, thrombosis and cardiac complications.

Obesity gives you an increased risk of having a still birth, needing a caesarean section, going over your due date, diabetes and heightened blood pressure.

If you do come in for a talk with Guy about your concerns, he’ll go over your entire medical history and talk you through the key things you can do to reduce the risk of a high-risk pregnancy. These include basic guidelines like:

  • Making healthy lifestyle choices – like stopping smoking, and drinking
  • Reducing stress where possible – remember all women deal with stress differently
  • Taking vitamins like Folic acid, and iron supplements
  • Moving toward a healthy weight – if you’re underweight or overweight

He may also recommend a pre-pregnancy assessment. This will help Guy, and you, understand how much extra monitoring will be required throughout the pregnancy. 

This will also help Guy understand if you’ll need special or advanced care requirements when you do give birth. These can include ensuring you have 24/7 access to emergency operating facilities, premature birth, ICU, or a premature nursery.

Dr Guy Skinner’s rooms are adjacent to St Vincent’s Private Hospital and Guy has access to 24hour a day operating and emergency facilities.