High-Risk Pregnancy

Digestion is the process of breaking down food and drink into smaller parts so that the body can use them to build and nourish cells, and to provide energy.

Many tests and procedures are available to monitor the health of both you and your baby. Many of these pose little or no risk.

Treating maternal and fetal infections can be tricky during pregnancy. Learn more about these infections.

First trimester screening combines fetal ultrasound and blood tests for the mother. It’s done during the first trimester of pregnancy, during weeks 1 to 12 or 13. It can help find out the risk of the fetus having certain birth defects.

Because many multiples are small and born early, they may be initially cared for in a special care nursery called the neonatal intensive care unit.

Screening is usually performed by taking a sample of the mother's blood between the 15th and 20th weeks of pregnancy (16th to 18th is ideal).

Alpha-fetoprotein screening is a blood test that measures the level of AFP in the mothers' blood. Abnormal levels may indicate certain problems with the fetus.

A mother with HIV can pass the virus to her baby during pregnancy, labor and delivery, and breastfeeding.

Anemia is when your blood has too few red blood cells. Having too few red blood cells makes it harder for your blood to carry oxygen or iron. This can affect how cells work in nerves and muscles. During pregnancy, your baby also needs your blood.

In this condition, there is too much amniotic fluid around your baby during pregnancy. It happens in about 1 in 100 pregnancies.

Antiphospholipid syndrome is an autoimmune disease. This happens when your immune system fights against normal cells. In this condition, your body makes antibodies that attack a kind of fat in cells. This makes your blood clot too easily.

Detailed information on autoimmune diseases and pregnancy

Myasthenia gravis is a complex autoimmune disorder. It causes antibodies to destroy the connections between your muscles and nerves. This causes muscle weakness and tiredness.

Many women with lupus give birth to healthy children. The key to a successful pregnancy is know how lupus affects your body.

Bleeding can happen at any time during pregnancy. Placenta previa can cause bleeding late in pregnancy. This means after about 20 weeks.

A biophysical profile is a test that is sometimes used during the third trimester of pregnancy. It is often done if there is a question about the baby’s health. This may be because of other test results or certain pregnancy symptoms, or because your pregnancy is high risk.

Pre-existing heart disease is a heart problem that you had before you got pregnant. This usually means a heart condition that you were born with (congenital). These can include heart problems that may have been fixed. It can also include heart valve issues.

Cholestasis of pregnancy is a liver problem. It slows or stops the normal flow of bile from the gallbladder. This causes itching and yellowing of your skin, eyes, and mucous membranes (jaundice). Cholestasis sometimes starts in early pregnancy. But it is more common in the second and third trimesters. It most often goes away within a few days after delivery. The high levels of bile may cause serious problems for your developing baby (fetus).

Chorionic villus sampling (CVS) is a test done early in a woman’s pregnancy. CVS checks for genetic problems in your baby. During CVS, your healthcare provider takes a small piece of tissue from the placenta for testing.

Diabetes is a condition in which the body can't make enough insulin, or can't use insulin normally. Insulin is a hormone. It helps sugar (glucose) in the blood get into cells of the body to be used as fuel. When glucose can’t enter the cells, it builds up in the blood. This is called high blood sugar (hyperglycemia).

Detailed information on digestive and liver disorders during pregnancy

A pregnancy that develops outside the uterus is called ectopic pregnancy. This nearly always happens in a fallopian tube. So it’s often called tubal pregnancy. Rarely, an ectopic pregnancy will happen in an ovary, in the cervix, or the belly (abdomen).

Fetal blood sampling is a procedure to take a small amount of blood from an unborn baby (fetus) during pregnancy. Fetal blood sampling is usually done by a perinatologist with special training. This is a doctor who specializes in the care of babies in high-risk pregnancies.

In pregnancy and during labor, your healthcare provider will want to check the health of your unborn baby (fetus). This is done by checking the baby’s heart rate and other functions. Monitoring can be done on the outside of your belly (external monitoring). Or it may be done directly on the baby while inside your uterus (internal monitoring). Fetal monitoring is a very common procedure.

Fetal movement counting is a way to check the health of a woman’s unborn baby (fetus). It’s often called kick counting. It’s done by counting the number of kicks you feel from your baby in the womb in a certain time period.

HELLP syndrome is a rare but life-threatening condition in pregnancy. It causes red cells in the blood to break down. It also causes problems with the liver, bleeding, and blood pressure. It is often linked with preeclampsia and eclampsia. It often develops before delivery. But it may also occur after delivery.

It's important not to get genital herpes during pregnancy. A first episode during pregnancy raises the risk of passing the disease on to your baby.

Many pregnant women have some nausea and sometimes vomiting in the first trimester. A few pregnant women have a severe kind of nausea and vomiting called hyperemesis gravidarum. These women often lose weight, and get dehydrated. They may also have changes in the body's chemical processes.

When a woman has pre-existing hypertension or develops hypertension before the 20th week of pregnancy, this is called chronic hypertension.

Graves disease is a condition where the thyroid gland makes too much thyroid hormone. This is called hyperthyroidism or overactive thyroid. Graves disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism during pregnancy.

Detailed information on high-risk pregnancy

Fetal growth restriction (FGR) is a condition in which an unborn baby (fetus) is smaller than expected for the number of weeks of pregnancy (gestational age). It is often described as an estimated weight less than the 10th percentile. This means that the baby weighs less than 9 out of 10 babies of the same gestational age. Newborn babies with FGR may be called "small for gestational age."

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a very common health complication of pregnancy. Untreated, a UTI can cause serious problems in pregnancy.

You've probably been warned not to eat brie cheese or order your steak cooked to anything less than medium. Why do you have to take these precautions? Listeriosis. Learn more about this food-borne illness and how to avoid it.

AFLP is a rare, but serious, liver problem in pregnancy. With AFLP the liver cells have too much fat, which can damage the liver.

Pregnancy loss is the death of an unborn baby (fetus) at any time during pregnancy. Pregnancy loss may occur in as many as 1 in every 4 pregnancies. Most pregnancy losses happen during the first trimester.

Detailed information on pregnancy loss, including types, causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment

Detailed anatomical information on the respiratory system in pregnancy

Women with high-risk pregnancies often need a close watch for potential problems or complications. Many tests and procedures are available to monitor the health of both mother and baby.

In pregnancy, infections are a common complication—but women may not have obvious symptoms, or they may show different symptoms of an infection.

Miscarriage is a pregnancy loss in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. About 1 in 10 women will miscarry in the first trimester (first 13 weeks of pregnancy). There are different types of miscarriage.

Epilepsy is a disorder of the nervous system. It is also called a seizure disorder. Normally the body's nerves send information by electrical and chemical signals. People with epilepsy have abnormal electrical signals in the brain. This can cause a seizure. Seizures can cause severe shaking of muscles. Or they may be very mild with hardly any symptoms at all.

Detailed information on neurologic conditions in pregnancy

Many women have migraine headaches while pregnant. The good news is that you don't have to give in to the pain when it strikes. Know what pain-relief options are safest for you.

A nonstress test is a type of test done during pregnancy. It measures the heart rate of the unborn baby (fetus) in response to its movements. In most cases, the heart rate of a healthy baby increases when the baby moves.

You need about 300 extra calories a day after the first trimester to maintain a healthy pregnancy. These calories should come from a balanced diet of protein, fruits, vegetables, and whole-grains.

Many women today are waiting until later in life to have children. In the United States, birth rates for women in their 30s are at the highest levels in four decades.

Detailed information on the most common complications during pregnancy

Detailed information on pregnancy and medical conditions

Gestational hypertension is high blood pressure in pregnancy. It occurs in about 3 in 50 pregnancies.

Postpartum hemorrhage is more bleeding than normal after the birth of a baby. About 1 in 100 to 5 in 100 women have postpartum hemorrhage. It is more likely with a cesarean birth. It most often happens after the placenta is delivered, but it can also happen later.

A pregnancy that lasts more than 42 weeks is called post-term. A pregnancy that is between 41 and 42 weeks is called late-term. Most women deliver between 37 and 42 weeks of pregnancy.

Detailed information on preconception care

Detailed information on prenatal diagnosis to detect fetal abnormalities in the womb

Detailed information on identifying potential risks of a pregnancy as an important part of preconception care

Preterm premature rupture of the membranes (PPROM) is a pregnancy complication. In this condition, the sac (amniotic membrane) surrounding your baby breaks (ruptures) before week 37 of pregnancy. Once the sac breaks, you have an increased risk for infection. You also have a higher chance of having your baby born early.

Preterm labor is labor that starts before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy. Labor is when the uterus regularly tightens and the cervix starts to thin and open. This lets the baby (fetus) enter the birth canal.

Rh disease occurs during pregnancy. It happens when the Rh factors in the mom’s and baby’s blood don’t match. It may also happen if the mom and baby have different blood types.

How sickle cell disease affects pregnancy depends on whether you have sickle cell disease or sickle cell trait.

Detailed information on high-risk pregnancy

Detailed information on thyroid conditions and pregnancy

Toxoplasmosis is not only harmful to moms-to-be, but also to their unborn babies. If you haven't heard of toxoplasmosis, you'll definitely want to brush up on this new word.

Genetic changes come in 2 main types: chromosome abnormalities and single-gene defects.

A woman with a multiple pregnancy needs more calories and nutrients, more frequent prenatal visits, and more rest.

Alcohol consumption by the mother is a leading cause of preventable birth defects in the fetus. In addition, the risk for miscarriage and stillbirth increases with alcohol consumption.

Having more than one baby is especially exciting—and complicated. Find out what to watch for, including a greater chance of anemia and preterm birth.

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that happens during pregnancy. The symptoms of gestational diabetes usually go away after delivery. But sometimes they do not, or you may develop type 2 diabetes later.

Almost every drug passes from the mother's bloodstream through the placenta to the fetus. Illicit substances that cause drug dependence and addiction in the mother also cause the fetus to become addicted.

With proper care, most women can enjoy a healthy pregnancy, even with health challenges like diabetes or high blood pressure.

All medicines you take affect the fetus, depending on the stage of development, the type and dosage of the medicine being taken, and your drug tolerance.

Detailed information on multiple pregnancies, including care of multiple birth babies

Multiple pregnancy is a pregnancy with 2 or more fetuses. In the United States, the multiple birth rate is rising.

Planning ahead and taking care of yourself before becoming pregnant is the best thing you can do for you and your baby.

Postpartum thyroiditis happens when a woman’s thyroid becomes inflamed after having a baby. It may first cause your thyroid to be overactive. But over time it leads to an underactive thyroid. This affects a small percentage of pregnant women.

With proper asthma management and good prenatal care, most women with asthma can have healthy pregnancies.

Don't smoke during your pregnancy and limit how much time you spend in environments where there is secondhand smoke.

Every pregnant woman feels like she’s getting big, but if you’re pregnant with 2 or more babies, you’ll really be growing fast. Be prepared by learning the signs of a multiple birth.

Multiple sclerosis is a central nervous system disorder. Pregnancy does not appear to speed up MS or worsen its effects.

A birth defect is a health problem or abnormal physical change that is present when a baby is born. Birth defects can be very mild, where the baby looks and acts like any other baby. Or birth defects can be more severe.

Signs of an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) may be masked by pregnancy. But the thyroid is important for your baby's brain development. Learn if you should be screened for hypothyroidism.

Chorioamnionitis [chor-y-oh-am-nee-oh-NY-tis] is an infection of the placenta and the amniotic fluid. Only a few women get it. But it is a common cause of preterm labor and delivery.

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