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A high risk pregnancy is one in which either or both the mother and baby have an above average risk of developing complications during the pregnancy. This condition may come about because of some pre-existing chronic medical condition in the mother, or may develop due to circumstances of the pregnancy. It is usually easier for a woman to avoid a high risk pregnancy if she plans to become pregnant when she is not too young or over the age of 35.
Any woman contemplating pregnancy, especially if she has a chronic medical condition, can go to a doctor to ensure that she is in good enough health to carry a child with minimal risk for both her and the baby. Once pregnant, women who might experience a high risk pregnancy especially need to seek out good prenatal care to avoid complications. Pre-existing conditions in the woman, such as heart disease, autoimmune disorders like HIV/AIDS, other sexually transmitted diseases, and diabetes may require close monitoring by a variety of medical specialists while she is pregnant. Besides the possibility that those kinds of chronic medical conditions might cause a high risk pregnancy, a high risk pregnancy may come about when there has been a history of medical complications with previous pregnancies, or when a previous pregnancy has not been carried to term.
Many conditions can develop during pregnancy, as a result of the pregnancy itself, which also can make the experience high risk. One of these is gestational diabetes in the mother. Pre-term labor, or labor that starts before 37 weeks of pregnancy have been passed, results in a high risk pregnancy because, at that point, the fetus is not fully developed and may not be viable outside of the womb.
Preeclampsia, known as eclampsia in its severest form, is another complication that may develop during pregnancy. It can cause high blood pressure and changes in the amount of liver enzymes in the mother's blood. If left untreated, the condition can lead to long-term medical issues for the mother and child, or even result in death.
All women who are considering pregnancy, and while pregnant, should eat a healthy diet containing foods with plenty of folic acid. Regular exercise to maintain a normal weight for body type and height is also important. Alcohol, drug, and cigarette use should be avoided.
A friend of mine spent 3 months in the hospital during her last pregnancy. She was only in her mid-thirties, but was pregnant with monoamniotic twins, meaning they were sharing one amniotic sac. It was an extremely difficult and high risk pregnancy for her, but the babies were born healthy, if premature.