5 Do’s and Dont’s During a High Risk Pregnancy
Published on 01/25/21
There is always a lot of concern amongst newly pregnant women as to whether or not their pregnancy is considered “high-risk.” The term itself is quite discomforting, but oftentimes women with “high-risk pregnancies” have few or no problems, and their pregnancy is smooth-sailing. Even then, there are plenty of things that you can do to decrease the risk as much as possible and have a healthy and happy child.
What is high-risk pregnancy?
The first step is being aware. Who is at risk, and what are the conditions of a high-risk pregnancy? The National Institute of Health lays out several indicators that you may be at high risk, including existing health conditions, age, and lifestyle choices.
Existing Health Conditions
The NIH shares several existing health conditions that may lead to a high-risk pregnancy. Namely, if you have high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, or another health problem such as auto-immune diseases or HIV/AIDS, you might be considered high-risk. Talk to your doctor about the best practices for navigating pregnancy with your particular health condition.
Young Age or Late First-Time Pregnancy
Other age related factors may contribute to a high-risk pregnancy as well. Teens under the age of 17 who are pregnant are more likely to be unaware of having a sexually transmitted disease (STI), and are more likely to develop high blood pressure and anemia during pregnancy. Likewise, adults who are having their first pregnancy over the age of 35 are also at risk in some cases. In this case, women over the age of 35 who are in their first-time pregnancy are more likely to have prolonged labor (20 hours or more), genetic disorders in the baby, pregnancy loss, ectopic delivery, or excessive bleeding. Teens and women over 35 also have a higher risk of preeclampsia and gestational high blood pressure.
Lastly, there are some lifestyle choices that may contribute to a higher risk of problems arising during pregnancy. These will not surprise you, but should definitely be considered and weighed with great importance. Alcohol use, tobacco use, and drug use all come with their own set of problems during a pregnancy.
Read More: High-risk pregnancy signs and safety tips
With that being said, here are five do’s and five don’ts for navigating a high-risk pregnancy.
The Five Do’s
1. Get lots of sleep
When you’re pregnant, it won’t always be easy to get your quality sleep. You might pass out after sitting on the couch, or toss and turn all night. While you adjust to the changes in hormones, water retention, and blood flow that come with a pregnancy, you’ll find it more difficult to get a good night’s sleep. Take a quick nap whenever you feel tired and fit some extra sleep into your schedule when you can. A good goal is to have somewhere between 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep each night, which in turn will aid your immune system and brain function, and regulate growth hormone levels.
2. Work out
Maintaining a consistent workout routine throughout your pregnancy can help you to stay healthy and feel great. Regular exercise can help combat insomnia, muscle pain, excessive weight gain, and mood problems. There is also evidence that physical activity may prevent gestational diabetes, relieve stress, and build stamina. If you exercised regularly before pregnancy, you may talk to your doctor about maintaining that routine during pregnancy. On the other hand, if you didn’t exercise much before your pregnancy, your doctor will help you figure out ways to incorporate exercise into your daily routine.
3. Practice Yoga
Yoga can help your body adjust to the many changes that come with a pregnancy. First and foremost, practicing yoga can help to stretch your muscles and strengthen your body, especially your lower body. Strengthening your muscles during pregnancy can help relieve common aches and pains, and will help you stay toned and prevent excessive weight gain. Remember to avoid more intensive yoga sessions and hot yoga which yields high body temperatures.
4. Eat Healthily
They say when you are pregnant that you can “eat for two,” but that shouldn’t be interpreted as eat twice as much of whatever you’d like! Gaining weight from the wrong foods during pregnancy can lead to all sorts of issues, especially if you are already prone to obesity or diabetes. Focus on eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, or lean meats, and avoid overly sugary or processed foods. Also consider thoroughly cooked seafood options once a week, as seafood is filled with tons of vitamins and minerals like omega3 fatty acids, zinc, and iron.
5. Take Vitamins
And seafood ties into the last “Do,” which is to stay on top of your vitamins! Keeping up with your daily vitamin intake will provide your body with the healthy nutrients it requires to support your baby. Consider taking prenatal vitamins that contain folic acid, calcium, and iron, as they will help prevent birth defects and help the fetus develop. Remember to only take the recommended amount of vitamins, though, because too many can have adverse effects on your baby.
See your doctor regularly. It’s always good to have check-ups especially for women who may be classified as high-risk. Doing regular check-ups can keep you on track and make sure there is no uncertainty about the best practices for having a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.
The Five Don’ts
1. Don’t smoke tobacco or nicotine products
First and foremost, don’t smoke tobacco products during pregnancy. Smoking increases the risk of health problems for babies such as preterm birth, low birth weight, and birth defects. It may also increase the risk of miscarriage or sudden infant death syndrome. Additionally, nicotine products may damage a developing baby’s brain and lungs. Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of these complications, so cutting it off sooner rather than later will go a long way for you and your baby.
2. Don’t consume alcohol
There is no safe amount of alcohol that you could consume during pregnancy. Before a woman is even aware that she is pregnant, consuming alcohol can cause issues for the baby’s development. Consuming alcohol during pregnancy could cause a baby to be delivered with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), which has symptoms such as low birth weight, learning disabilities, behavior problems, and lagging patterns in growth and development.
3. Don’t eat raw meat or deli meat
Toxoplasmosis is an infection with bacteria that is often found in raw meat. It can also be found in cold cured meats like chorizo, salami or prosciutto. Though it’s typically harmless in non-pregnant people, toxoplasmosis from raw meat consumption can result in a miscarriage, stillbirth, or damage to the fetus’ organs. This ties in with maintaining a healthy diet, and even vitamin rich, thoroughly cooked meals.
4. Don’t sit in hot water
Hot tubs and saunas are a great way to relax and relieve some stress, as the warmth is known to soothe muscles. Women who are pregnant, however, should limit if not avoid bathing in hot water or saunas completely. The reason is that during pregnancy, body temperatures rising above 102.2 degrees Fahrenheit for extended periods of time can result in brain or spinal cord defects for the baby. You can use a hot tub safely under several conditions, most importantly being you have already gone through the first trimester. Try to stay in the water for no more than 10 minutes, try to keep your chest above the water, sit away from the jets, and if you start sweating, get out so you can cool off.
5. Don’t panic!
And lastly, remember that even those who are considered high-risk often have little to no issues and have a healthy baby. The most important thing for you to do is to not stress about it, and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Reducing stress and anxiety-provoking thoughts is vital to your wellbeing. Be sure to take time to enjoy yourself and relax, and if you can’t shake the nervous feelings, our compassionate OB/GYN specialists will help you every step of the way.
To Wrap Up
Nobody likes to be classified as “high-risk”, but it’s always important to know the do’s and don’ts during a pregnancy especially if it is high-risk. Hopefully, this quick guide will help navigate through your pregnancy and also calm your nerves. Thousands of women go through high-risk pregnancies every year and deliver healthy and happy babies. The team at Rosh MFM is committed to ensuring that you and your baby are strong and healthy. If you need advice, are unsure if you are high-risk, or simply want to consult with a specialist, call one of our six convenient locations or schedule a video consultation online today.