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Motherhood is one of nature’s greatest gifts. Pregnancy is a natural process that usually goes smoothly. With proper prenatal care, the mother experiences a healthy delivery. After a full-term pregnancy, a woman goes into labour on or near her due date and delivers a healthy baby. After a day or two in the hospital, the mother and child can return home and get back to daily life. However, sometimes pregnancies do not go smoothly. In certain cases, women experience what doctors have termed as a ‘high-risk pregnancy.’

Pregnancy is a challenging experience that requires regular medical care. To ensure that both the mother and child are as healthy as can be, it is necessary to properly care for the mother during her pregnancy. This is especially the case for high-risk pregnancies. Identifying high-risk pregnancy is important.

The symptoms of high-risk pregnancies are often similar to those of a typical pregnancy. However, they may last longer and be more severe than in normal pregnancy. It is necessary to report any painful or worrisome symptoms to the doctor immediately. Some symptoms of a high-risk pregnancy include:

• Severe pain or cramping in the lower abdomen

• Noticeable changes in vision, including blurred vision

• Decreased fetal movement

• Persistent headaches

• Painful burning sensations while urinating

• Vaginal bleeding

• Clear, watery vaginal discharge, similar to a yeast infection

• Frequent contractions

There are certain factors that can increase the risk of a high-risk pregnancy. These factors include:

• Maternal age: The age of the pregnant woman is one of the most common risk factors for a high-risk pregnancy. If the mother-to-be is over 35 years or under 17, she is at greater risk of complications such as preeclampsia and gestational high blood pressure. The risk of miscarriage and genetic defects increases further after the age of 40.

• Lifestyle: Smoking cigarettes, alcohol and drug use can put the pregnancy at risk.

• Multiple births: The pregnancy risks are higher for women who are carrying two or more babies. Common complications in such cases include preeclampsia, premature labour, and preterm labour.

• Maternal health: Medical conditions that exist before the pregnancy can pose risks for the mother and/or her unborn baby. These conditions include high blood pressure; lung, kidney or heart problems; autoimmune disease; epilepsy; thyroid disease; diabetes; poorly controlled asthma; sexually transmitted diseases (STD); or chronic infections such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Another risk factor is if the mother was overweight or underweight before pregnancy.

• Pregnancy history: Problems during a previous pregnancy or pregnancies, or a family history of genetic disorders can be risk factors for a high-risk pregnancy. A history of pregnancy-related hypertension disorders, like preeclampsia, can increase the risk of having this during the next pregnancy. Similarly, a history of premature births increases the risk of early delivery in the next pregnancy.

• Pregnancy complications: Complications that develop during pregnancy can pose risks. These include fetal problems; abnormal placenta position; rhesus (Rh) sensitization- a condition that can occur when the mother’s blood group is Rh-negative and the baby’s blood group is Rh-positive.

Regular check-ups with a gynaecology doctor are a necessary part of all pregnancies. This prenatal care is especially necessary for diagnosing and managing high-risk pregnancies. Some requirements to keep in mind while dealing with a high-risk pregnancy include:

• Preconception appointment- Consult a health care provider before pregnancy. They may get the mother started on a daily prenatal vitamin with folic acid and help her reach a healthy weight before pregnancy. They might also discuss the risks of having a baby with a genetic condition.

• Scheduling more frequent visits with the doctor during prenatal care. Prenatal visits help the doctor monitor both the mother’s and the baby’s health. The mother may be referred to a specialist in maternal-fetal medicine, genetics, paediatrics or other areas.

• Lifestyle changes to ensure proper prenatal care. This includes avoiding risky substances like drugs, alcohol and cigarettes. Women with high-risk pregnancies need to be especially attentive to their health, eat a nutritious diet, and gain a proper amount of weight.

• In addition to regular screening tests, additional tests, such as a biophysical profile or targeted ultrasound, might be recommended to monitor the health and development of the baby.

• For high-risk pregnancies, it is recommended to have the delivery in a hospital setting as giving birth at home could be too risky.

It is important to get proper care from medical professionals to ensure the health of the mother and child. At Naseem al Rabeeh, we provide you with comprehensive care from highly-skilled professionals. Our team of doctors is aided by state-of-the-art facilities to give you the best care. For those more comfortable with Arabic, we have highly-qualified female Arab gynaecologists that you can consult. A high-risk pregnancy can seem daunting, but Naseem is here to help you in your journey.

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