If you have a high-risk pregnancy, you might have questions. Will you need special prenatal care?

If you have a high-risk pregnancy, you or your baby might be at increased risk of health problems before, during or after delivery. Typically, special monitoring or care throughout pregnancy is needed. Understand the risk factors for a high-risk pregnancy, and what you can do to take care of yourself and your baby.
What are the risk factors for a high-risk pregnancy?
Sometimes a high-risk pregnancy is the result of a medical condition present before pregnancy. In other cases, a medical condition that develops during pregnancy for either you or your baby causes a pregnancy to become high risk.
Specific factors that might contribute to a high-risk pregnancy include:
• Advanced maternal age. Pregnancy risks are higher for mothers older than age 35.
• Lifestyle choices. Smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol and using illegal drugs can put a pregnancy at risk.
• Maternal health problems. High blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, epilepsy, thyroid disease, heart or blood disorders, poorly controlled asthma, and infections can increase pregnancy risks.
• Pregnancy complications. Various complications that develop during pregnancy can pose risks. Examples include an abnormal placenta position, fetal growth less than the 10th percentile for gestational age (fetal growth restriction) and rhesus (Rh) sensitization — a potentially serious condition that can occur when your blood group is Rh negative and your baby's blood group is Rh positive.
• Multiple pregnancy. Pregnancy risks are higher for women carrying twins or higher order multiples.

What steps can I take to promote a healthy pregnancy?
Whether you know ahead of time that you'll have a high-risk pregnancy or you simply want to do whatever you can to prevent a high-risk pregnancy, stick to the basics. For example:
• Schedule a preconception appointment- If you're thinking about becoming pregnant, consult your health care provider. He or she might counsel you to start taking a daily prenatal vitamin with folic acid and reach a healthy weight before you become pregnant. If you have a medical condition, your treatment might be adjusted in preparation for pregnancy. Your health care provider might also discuss your risk of having a baby with a genetic condition.
• Seek regular prenatal care- Prenatal visits can help your health care provider monitor your health and your baby's health. You might be referred to a specialist in maternal-fetal medicine, genetics, pediatrics or other areas.
• Avoid risky substances- If you smoke, quit. Alcohol and illegal drugs are off-limits, too. Talk to your health care provider about any over-the-counter and prescription medications or supplements you're taking.
A high-risk pregnancy might have ups and downs. Do your best to stay positive as you take steps to promote a healthy pregnancy.

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