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First a global pandemic, now a high-risk pregnancy. What’s a mom-to-be to do?

Has your pregnancy been categorized as high-risk by your obstetrician? The term high-risk has a tendency to bring to mind worst-case scenarios, but if your doctor has said that you’re technically high-risk, it may simply mean that you need to be extra wonderful to yourself during your pregnancy.

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What is a high-risk pregnancy?

If your pregnancy has been called high-risk, it means you have one or more factors that increase the likelihood of preterm delivery or other health complications. These factors may be associated with age, other health conditions or personal health history. Specifically, your pregnancy could be high-risk if you are:

  • Are younger than 17 or older than 35
  • Smoke
  • Already have a child with a birth defect or genetic disorder
  • Drink alcohol to excess or use illegal drugs
  • Have health problems, including depression, diabetes or high blood pressure
  • Are overweight or underweight prior to pregnancy
  • Are pregnant with multiples
  • Previously experienced premature labor

Best practices for a healthy delivery

If you have a high-risk pregnancy, make your health your top priority. By extension, your baby will also benefit. Healthy habits to adopt during this time include:

  • choosing a nutrient-rich diet filled with whole foods, such as vegetables, fruits, lean forms of protein, and whole grains
  • engaging in a routine physical activity approved by your doctor
  • Have regular visits with your OB/GYN
  • minimizing stress by streamlining your schedule and doing relaxing activities like walking or yoga
  • trying to gain the appropriate amount of weight by monitoring your daily intake of calories

It is also very important to guard yourself against infections and viruses during this time. It’s never fun to deal with a cold, influenza or the stomach virus, but it’s even harder when you are managing pregnancy-associated symptoms like bloating and morning sickness.

Pregnant women are also particularly susceptible to severe illness from COVID-19, so be mindful of steps that will help lessen your chances of catching the virus. Avoid crowds, wash hands thoroughly and regularly, and wear a mask when in close proximity to others.

What about the COVID-19 vaccine

In addition to habits that can help reduce your risk of infection, the COVID-19 vaccine can also minimize your chances of contracting the virus. Have a conversation with your doctor about the benefits of having the vaccine, especially if your pregnancy falls in the high-risk category. Recently, the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology published a study of 131 women who received either the Moderna or Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, 84 of who were pregnant and 31 of whom were lactating. The study found the women had favorable immune responses and that the immunity was passed to babies through the placenta and breastmilk.

Specialists with our Maternal-Fetal Medicine program are here to help you navigate your high-risk pregnancy. Discuss your options for COVID-19 protection with your doctor.