7 Tips for Managing a High-Risk Pregnancy

There a few moments in life as powerful as the elation and joy of getting pregnant. If you’ve been diagnosed with a high-risk pregnancy I know how quickly those emotions can turn into anxiety and concern. But luckily with early and regular prenatal care, many women with high-risk pregnancies can still have healthy babies and safe outcomes. A high-risk pregnancy diagnosis may require lifestyle changes, which is why it’s important to have a strong support system and plan for getting the care you need.


Once patients are diagnosed with a high-risk pregnancy from their OB/GYN they are usually referred to a Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialist who is trained to help women facing unexpected problems during pregnancy. However, it’s important to note that you do not need to have a high-risk pregnancy diagnosis to be referred to a high-risk specialist like myself. As a Fort Lauderdale Perinatologist, I encourage all pregnant women to see an MFM at any stage of pregnancy for a proactive measure in their care. Once my patients arrive at my office, they typically have many questions and concerns. If you’re facing a high-risk pregnancy, here are seven tips for managing the health and wellbeing of yourself and your baby: 


1. Stay Informed 

What classifies a high-risk pregnancy is anything that could potentially harm the health or life of the mother and fetus. There are several factors that make up a high-risk pregnancy ranging from high blood pressure in pregnancy and developing preeclampsia, placenta previa, having twins or higher order multiples, age of the mother, diabetes, multiple miscarriages, fetal abnormalities or pre-existing health conditions. It’s important to understand the risks associated with your condition and get accurate and reliable information. If you suspect you may be at high-risk prior to becoming pregnant, it’s advisable to schedule a preconception counseling appointment with a pregnancy specialist like myself to discuss your options. If are already pregnant, it’s important to develop an open line of communication with your physicians. Keep a notebook with a list of ongoing questions and if you do decide to research information about your condition online, stick to credible sources such as the patent education pages of the Centers for Disease Control, The Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine and American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 


2. Have a Support System 

Surround yourself with family and friends during this time and communicate your needs. Depending on your condition, you may be experiencing lifestyle changes that require you to scale back on commitments and obligations. Have a reliable team of medical professionals to guide you through your pregnancy as well as family and friends. You may also want to consider joining a high-risk pregnancy support group to express your concerns and feelings in a safe space. The Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine has a list of support groups for various types of pregnancies. There are also many Facebook groups created for women experiencing a high-risk pregnancy. 


3. Create a Plan with Your Health Care Providers 

By creating a proactive plan for maternal care and delivery, you will have peace of mind as you progress toward your due date. There are many things to consider for your care and how any pregnancy disorder and disease will impact your birth plan. It’s important to ensure that your MFM and OB/GYN have an open line of communication and you are attending all prenatal care appointments. Your condition might also determine where you will deliver your baby. For example, most hospitals have a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, but not all of them are a level 3 NICU or higher. Hospitals without a level 3 NICU typically transport critical cases to another facility that can care for newborns after delivery, which often results in the mother and baby being separated. Talk to your doctor about options for delivery. 


4. Put Your Self-Care First

By making self-care a priority, you will ensure a better outcome for yourself and your baby. This means eating a healthy diet, reducing exposure to toxins and harmful environmental factors, exercise, getting enough sleep and avoiding situations that create stress. Research shows a correlation between stress and disease so maintaining a healthy lifestyle can have an improvement in your pregnancy and delivery. 



5. Listen to Your Body 

Your body holds wisdom. Take time to slow down and listen to what your body is telling you. If you need more rest, allow yourself to rest. Your body works overtime to grow a fetus, so you may not have the energy you are used to having. And if you feel that something isn’t normal, be sure to contact your OBGYN provider as soon as possible. 


6. Address Mental Health Concerns 

Studies show that depression is common for women who have been hospitalized for obstetric pregnancy complications. It’s important to address difficult feelings that may arise and to know it’s normal to experience a wide range of emotions. Many women struggle with blaming themselves for their conditions, but it’s important to know you aren’t alone. Ask your OB/GYN or MFM for recommendations for a mental health professional if you are experiencing these symptoms or if they are interfering with your ability to perform daily tasks. 



7. Manage Your Mindset 

Having outlets for reducing stress and thoughts that trigger anxiety is important for your overall wellbeing and if you’re experiencing pregnancy issues. Staying calm and relaxed will help your overall wellbeing. Despite how serious things may feel, be sure to take time to do things you enjoy or help you to feel relaxed. This could be going on a walk with a friend, listening to a meditation app or taking a yoga class. These activities will help you regain a sense of normalcy and take your mind off your worries and concerns. 

If you found this article helpful be sure check back here for future blogs and follow me on Facebook and Instagram for even more helpful pregnancy tips and information!

Sasha Davidson, MD

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