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High-risk pregnancies – 5 things you need to know

Young girl with her hand on her mother's pregnant bellyPregnancy can be a journey of highs and lows – the first time you receive the news of your pregnancy, overcoming morning sickness, hearing your baby’s heartbeat, as well as possibly discovering things about your baby that you might not want to hear.

A pregnancy is considered high risk if mothers or their babies are more likely to experience health complications. High-risk pregnancies are often identified based on certain prerequisites, or the results of pre-natal tests.

Here are 5 things you need to know about high-risk pregnancies.

What is a high-risk pregnancy and what are the causes?

The likelihood of high-risk pregnancies are often determined based on a variety of factors such as age, weight, existing medical conditions, genetics, and history of complication during previous pregnancies.

The severity of these complications can range from mild complications like blood clotting, which can easily be treated with medication, to birth defects and miscarriages. For example, mothers over the age of 35 are at a higher risk of giving birth to babies with physical, structural and chromosomal abnormalities.

Obese and underweight mothers also face risks of complications, and other existing health problems such as high blood pressure and diabetes can also pose a potential problem to mothers in their pregnancies.

Some complications are also passed down genetically, and a common indicator of potential complications would be previous complications during pregnancy.

Why should I bother finding out if I’m at risk?

For one, it is always good to be mentally prepared before pregnancy, so that you allow yourself more time to make informed choices. More so, if you fall within the high-risk groups eg. above age of 35.

It is important to identify the potential risks that you may face earlier in the pregnancy. Being able to identify these risks earlier means that you will have more time to make informed decisions based on the results, and can help grant you greater peace of mind. Simply having this knowledge gives you the power to improve your pregnancy and ensure a better future for your child.

There are many ways that mothers can find out more about their pregnancy. Various publications and websites can be helpful though mothers need to be discerning in consuming such information. Of course, one of the best resources available would be your very own doctor.

How can my doctor help me if I’m an at-risk mother?

Your doctors play a key role in your pregnancy journey, as they’ll be guiding you through every new piece of information about your baby and you. Your doctors will be able to identify any red flags with the development of your baby, and advise you on the relevant tests at each pregnancy stage to ensure a healthy bub and you.

Various tests are available to expectant mothers. Some may be part of the standard routine checks that your doctor go through with you, such as the Nuchal Translucency (NT) test and the First Trimester Screen (FTS), while others, such as the Quad Screen, Non-Invasive Prenatal Tests, CVS and Amniocentesis may be recommended based on your circumstances.

These tests not only reveal the risk of your pregnancy, but can sometimes identify the specific conditions, such as Down Syndrome and Edwards Syndrome. You can find out more about the different tests available here.

Remember, ensure communication with your doctor so he/she can best work through your next steps with you.

What should I do if I think I’m at risk?

Do not panic. Being ‘at-risk’ does not mean a 100 per cent chance of complications. Nothing is definite and a problem-free pregnancy is still in sight. Remember, it is all right to do your research and seek second (or even third) opinions if you are unsure of the next steps.

Apart from just taking the relevant tests, it is also incredibly important to continue to keep yourself healthy by drinking adequate amounts of water, sticking to a healthy diet and even taking relevant health supplements, such as vitamins and folic acid.

Getting plenty of rest and abstaining from unhealthy habits such as drinking alcohol and smoking are only wise. You can also try picking up healthy habits such as regular (light) exercise or consider taking classes that prepare you for motherhood, such as birthing or cooking classes.

I can’t stop myself from worrying. Help?

It is completely normal for mothers-to-be to worry about the precious life growing inside, but at the same time, it is important to get the answers that can help overcome these worries as soon as possible. Pre-natal testing is one avenue that you can turn to.

Of course, even if you receive information and results that may indicate potential challenges in your pregnancy, you should not overthink—it is highly possible that even though you fit the criteria of mothers who are more prone to experiencing a high risk pregnancy, you may end up having a perfectly healthy baby.

Remaining calm and stress-free can also help prevent additional health problems, which is why it is vital that mothers stay well-informed and in control of the situation.

Finding out that your pregnancy may be high risk can be a nerve-wrecking experience, but you do not have to go through it alone. There are plenty of resources and reliable individuals that you can turn to with your questions, concerns, or even support and encouragement.

Family, friends, doctors and even online sources can definitely serve as the pillars to lean on as you embark on this exciting voyage towards becoming a new mother.



This blog post is sponsored by INEX / iGene Prenatal Test.

For more information, please visit

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