What Is High-Risk Pregnancy And How Does It Affect Pregnancy?

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A good game of Risk is cool but requires friends and about 5,000 hours. Risky Business is great, but you have to sit through an undie-clad Tom Cruise lip-sync. You get a good adrenaline rush from starting your morning commute like 40-minutes late but you risk getting fired.

And so it goes with a high-risk pregnancy: It can totally be managed and result in a happy, healthy baby, but it also takes some of the pure joy out of the thing. If you’re looking down the 9-month barrel of a high-risk pregnancy, or feel like your partner might have one, here are some things you’ll want to know:

flickr / Sodanie Chea

flickr / Sodanie Chea

What Is A High-Risk Pregnancy?
In the broadest sense of the term, a high-risk pregnancy is one affected by any number of conditions that could put the life of the mother or baby at risk. The problem with this definition is that it sounds like the conditions should be extreme. And to be sure, some of the are. But there are also conditions that would seem completely normal that could make a pregnancy high-risk.

  • Advanced maternal age: According to physicians advanced maternal age begins at 35. And you thought her age was only a risk when she found out you mentioned it to strangers.
  • Multiples: You may think the concern about twins or triplets is how the hell you’re going to pay for them after they’re born. But carrying multiples makes the pregnancy riskier for the babies and the mom. It’s also risky for breakables as she swings her big ol’ belly around.
  • Weight: Being severely underweight can certainly cause issues. Being overweight or obese could also lead to problems in pregnancy. Those include preeclampsia and gestational diabetes.

The more obvious risks are diseases like HIV and cancer, smoking, drug use and alcoholism, as well as having had previous high-risk pregnancies in the past.

flickr / cantaloupe99

flickr / cantaloupe99

What To Expect During A High Risk Pregnancy
For you and your partner, the biggest hit may come in understanding that you might not be able to execute your perfect birth plan (but shaman-led holistic Himalayan pink salt water births are overrated anyway).

You’ll be going to way more doctors appointments than you would if you were having a typical pregnancy. Your doctor might also suggest certain genetic tests if you are at a higher risk to have a child with a developmental disability.

flickr / bradfordst219

flickr / bradfordst219

How You Can Deal With It
High-risk pregnancies come with a ton of anxiety. You can work on this by having open and honest conversations with your partner and talking with dads who have gone through it themselves.

You can help you partner by assisting with healthy food decisions. Maybe don’t suggest chicken wings every Wednesday night, and lay off the fast food burgers (when she’s looking).

If you smoke, stop doing that! Especially if she was also a smoker. That’s just mean, man.

Understand Signs Of Emergency
She knows her body way better than you do, and she’ll likely recognize signs that you’ve got to cruise to the hospital or call your doctor right away. But emergency symptoms like passing out might make that complicated for her. So keep an eye out for issues she might not flag as serious problems like fever and visions problems.

Finally, do your best to think about something else every once in awhile. The occasional quiet getaway for two could work wonders. As long as it’s not too far away from the nearest hospital. Just in case.

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