If you are planning to get pregnant, it is natural that you would want to take every measure possible to prevent a high-risk pregnancy. At Apollo Cradle, we constantly emphasise that by practising healthy behaviour and undertaking tests early, you can minimise the chance of a high-risk pregnancy.
A high-risk pregnancy occurs due to one or more of the following reasons:
- A pre-existing medical condition in the mother such as diabetes or hypertension
- A pregnancy-related problems that lead to complications such as premature labour
- Age of the expecting mother, and,
- Lifestyle disorders
Any of these three factors could increase the risk of adverse effects for the mother, baby or both. The good news is that there are certain measures you can take for each of this situation to lower the risk of high-risk pregnancy.
- Treat the pre-existing condition – If you have a pre-existing condition such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease or lupus, it is extremely important to plan a pregnancy only after ensuring that your underlying medical condition is being treated appropriately and you’re health is optimum for pregnancy. For instance, if you’re diabetic, ensure that your blood sugars are under control or if you’re hypertensive, make sure it is being treated appropriately. To have the best chance of a healthy and successful pregnancy, it is best to ensure that pre-existing conditions are under control before you conceive.
- Test for birth defects and genetic conditions – Fetal problems including genetic conditions such as chromosomal abnormalities and birth defects can complicate pregnancies. While the risk of these issues increases with family history, age and ethnicity, any woman could have an affected child. At the very outset of your pregnancy, discuss in detail with your doctor or genetic counsellor to know about the risks and test options. Latest technology ultrasounds and non-invasive tests can detect any issues early on. Prenatal vitamins and in some cases, additional folic acid prior to and during early pregnancy can help reduce the risk for many types of birth defects.
- Prevent complications you have had before – In a first pregnancy, pregnancy-related complications such as preeclampsia, preterm labour or birth are difficult to predict. However, in following pregnancies, you should be proactive and take measures to prevent those complications from re-occurring. For instance, progesterone can help reduce the risk of preterm birth or aspirin can help prevent the recurrence of preeclampsia. Taking preventive measures early on will help improve outcomes.
- Improve your lifestyle - There are some common lifestyle measures that you can take to reduce your chance of a high-risk pregnancy such as:
- Eat a healthy diet - You would need more folic acid, calcium, iron and other essential nutrients during pregnancy. Make sure that all these are factored in your diet.
- Stay away from risky substances - Substances such as tobacco, alcohol and illegal drugs should be completely avoided.
- Watch your weight - The right amount of weight gain will help support your baby’s growth and health. Know from your doctor as to what is the ideal weight gain and aim to be within that limit.
- Regular prenatal visits - Regular visits will help your doctor to monitor the baby’s and your health. Issues, if any, can be arrested timely. Your doctor may refer you to a specialist in genetics, maternal-foetal medicine, paediatrics or any other field depending on the circumstances.
- Be careful when using ART (assisted reproductive technology) – If you plan to get pregnant using ART, carefully consider how many embryos you want implanted. Multiple pregnancies are prone to higher risk of preterm labour.