What expectant mothers should never skip are medical checkups. Also known as prenatal care, these monthly to weekly consultations keep both you and your baby’s health in check and prevent any complications moving forward.
During these visits, your doctor may require you to undergo certain screening and diagnostic tests to monitor your pregnancy and to diagnose a particular condition – especially if your pregnancy is considered high-risk.
High-Risk Pregnancies: What to Expect
A pregnancy is considered high-risk if the chances of getting complications in the future are high. However, such problems are not set in stone, which means that you may or may not experience these complications throughout your pregnancy.
There are many factors that can lead a pregnant woman to become high-risk. This may be the result of a medical condition prepregnancy or one that develops along the way.
Aside from a medical history of chronic hypertension, heart problems, diabetes, and breathing problems, a mother can have a high-risk pregnancy due to advanced age, which is usually beyond age thirty-five; a multiple pregnancy; surgical history that involves the abdomen or uterus; lifestyle choices; and pregnancy complications, such as abnormal placental position, fetal growth restriction, and Rh sensitization.
Aside from the routine prenatal screening tests, high-risk pregnant mothers may need to consider certain tests and procedures.
While expectant mothers are asked to get an ultrasound during certain periods of their pregnancy, a specialized or targeted ultrasound may be required for mothers who are at high risk for pregnancy complications.
During a targeted ultrasound, high-frequency sound waves are used to create images of the fetus inside the uterus, specifically targeting a suspected problem, such as abnormal development. Aside from checking the baby’s condition, an ultrasound may also be used to measure cervical length during prenatal appointments. This will help determine if one is at risk for preterm labor.
An amniocentesis is a screening procedure that involves the aspirating of a sample of amniotic fluid, which surrounds and protects the baby throughout pregnancy, from the uterus.
Typically done after fifteen weeks’ gestation, an amniocentesis is performed to determine certain types of congenital disabilities or chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down syndrome, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell disease, or muscular dystrophy. While amniocentesis does not detect all types of birth disabilities, it can be used to identify the above conditions especially if the parents have a particular genetic risk.
Chorionic Villus Sampling
Chorionic villus sampling (CVS) is a screening test that is used to detect specific birth abnormalities in your fetus. Ideally done between weeks eleven and thirteen of pregnancy, CVS is performed by taking a small sample of cells from the placenta and having it tested in the laboratory for genetic defects.
This test is offered to high-risk mothers who may be over thirty-five, have had a child with a certain chromosome abnormality, or have a family history of such conditions.
A biophysical profile is a combination of an ultrasound evaluation and a nonstress test that determines fetal health and well-being, which may be compromised as a result of an examination or a high-risk pregnancy.
The test is performed in two parts. During the nonstress test, an ultrasound transducer and a fetal toco transducer are attached to the mother’s abdomen to monitor the fetal heart rate and to measure contractions. A technician performs an ultrasound to check for significant signs to determine the baby’s health.
Having a high-risk pregnancy does not mean that you and your baby are in danger. By maintaining a healthy lifestyle and religiously following your doctor’s instructions, you can definitely steer clear from complications and deliver a healthy baby into the world.