Only 6-8% of all pregnancies are high-risk. Although most women experience normal pregnancies, learning more about common complications during pregnancy can help you make smart choices for your health and your baby’s health.
Every pregnancy is different. Some pregnancies start out low-risk and complications like gestational diabetes or preeclampsia develop mid-pregnancy, and mom and baby need special medical care. In other cases, women may have high-risk pregnancies from the start.
If you’re pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant, schedule an appointment with Christopher Serrano, MD, to understand if you may face a high-risk pregnancy. Dr. Serrano and our team provide comprehensive pregnancy care to women in San Antonio, Texas, and we’re here to help you have the healthiest pregnancy possible.
Some factors that contribute to high-risk pregnancy can’t be changed. Women carrying multiples, including twins or triplets, are often high-risk. But there are changes you can make to increase your chances of having a healthy pregnancy. Find out more about six things you can do to prevent a high-risk pregnancy, and book your first prenatal appointment today.
1. Maintain or achieve a healthy weight before pregnancy
Being overweight or obese while pregnant increases your risk of developing a variety of complications, like high blood pressure, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and stillbirth.
If you’re planning to get pregnant, achieving a healthy weight before pregnancy reduces your risk of complications. Follow a healthy diet and get regular exercise to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight. While pregnant, follow the doctor’s guidelines for weight gain to ensure a healthy labor and delivery.
2. Manage pre-existing health conditions
Uncontrolled pre-existing health conditions can make a pregnancy high risk. Common conditions that can affect pregnancy include:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and HIV
- Autoimmune diseases, like lupus or multiple sclerosis
Pregnancy takes a toll on your body. Managing health conditions with medication and lifestyle changes before pregnancy helps your bodywork at its best while you’re pregnant.
3. Take prenatal supplements
While you’re pregnant, your body needs more of certain nutrients to support your growing baby. Taking a prenatal vitamin or supplement can give you folic acid, iron, protein, and calcium that you aren’t getting from your normal diet.
Talk to Dr. Serrano about your nutritional needs. If you’re planning to get pregnant, it’s a good idea to begin taking a prenatal supplement before conception. Taking prenatal vitamins after your baby is born can be helpful if you’re breastfeeding.
4. Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and drugs
Drinking alcohol, smoking or using tobacco products, and taking drugs while pregnant can significantly impact your baby’s health. If you drink alcohol while you’re pregnant, you increase the risk of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, which causes serious birth defects.
Smoking cigarettes can cause low birth weight in babies. Using illegal drugs or misusing prescription drugs can cause birth defects, and it’s even possible for babies to be born addicted to a drug used during pregnancy. Take only the medications prescribed by your doctor during pregnancy.
5. Know the risks of older maternal age
Your risk for pregnancy complications increases beginning at age 35. These complications include difficulty getting pregnant, miscarriage, and genetic abnormalities in the baby. Fertility begins to decline slowly around age 30 and speeds up for women 35 and older.
Common complications that mothers 35 and older may face include:
- Premature birth
- Low birth weight
- Gestational diabetes
- Needing to have a c-section (cesarean) birth
Women in their 20s are at the lowest risk for complications during pregnancy. Talk to Dr. Serrano about your risks if you’re pregnant or planning to get pregnant later in life.
6. Visit the doctor regularly during pregnancy
Regular prenatal appointments are critical to monitor both your health and the health of your growing baby. At each appointment, Dr. Serrano checks your vital signs and measures the baby’s progress. If potential issues are identified, such as gestational diabetes or preeclampsia, we develop a treatment plan to give you the healthiest possible pregnancy and birth.
Taking steps to improve your health before and during pregnancy can make a big difference for you and your baby. Call us today at (210) 761-5309 or request your first appointment online to get started.