Approximately 60 percent of U.S. women of reproductive age are obese or overweight.
A high-risk pregnancy is defined as one in which the health of the mother or her baby is threatened. Obesity is a top concern during pregnancy because it often leads to conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes. Of course, there are a variety of factors that put a pregnancy at risk of complications, from weight and age to medical conditions.
Women over the age of 35, for example, are also considered high risk. Age plays a part in high-risk pregnancies because these women are more likely to have a cesarean section, delivery complications, or a baby with a genetic disorder. Similarly, pregnant teens are more likely to develop anemia or go into labor earlier. In all of these scenarios, the mother and baby would need more monitoring through pregnancy and labor and would benefit from the help of a Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialist.
Overall, approximately 20 percent of all pregnancies involve some type of complication that threatens the health of the mother or the baby. We dive deeper into the causes of high-risk pregnancies below and examine the expert physicians—Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialists—who help women experiencing them.
What is a high-risk pregnancy?
Typically, anyone who has medical challenges when they become pregnant, or anyone who develops medical challenges during pregnancy, is considered high risk. That means they will require extra care and support during their prenatal journey to ensure that both the mother and baby are healthy. As mentioned above, existing conditions such as obesity often lead to a high-risk pregnancy. The top four situations that we usually see at our women’s care center for high-risk pregnancies include:
1. Existing conditions
2. Previous pregnancy complications
3. Problems that develop during pregnancy
4. Multiple gestations
Gestational diabetes and fetal abnormalities, such as birth defects, are issues that develop during a normal pregnancy. In that instance, the mother would work with a Maternal-Fetal Medicine (MFM) specialist along with her OB/GYN or Certified Nurse-Midwife. If a woman finds out that she’s expecting more than one baby, she will likely be referred to an MFM specialist because multiple babies will require more attention. The number of multiples born in the U.S. is currently at an all-time high, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
Between health, age, lifestyle factors, and medical complications, pregnancies can take a toll on a woman’s body. The increasing number of high-risk pregnancies is not surprising once you consider the rise in conditions like obesity and gestational diabetes. And that’s where Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialists come in!
Who are the doctors who handle high-risk pregnancies?
Maternal-Fetal Medicine (MFM) specialists are physicians who have advanced knowledge and training in medical, surgical, obstetrical, fetal, and genetic complications of pregnancy. They provide consultations, peer and patient education, transfer of care, and much more for women experiencing high-risk pregnancies. They work with all obstetric providers—from midwives to family physicians to nurses—to co-manage prenatal care for women with any complications or concerns.
Ultimately, an MFM specialist’s goal is to achieve the best outcome for both the mother and baby. At Valley Perinatal, we employ the best, most experienced MFM specialists to be part of your pregnancy team. We know how to handle any high-risk situation throughout every stage of pregnancy and work to increase gestational ages and decrease NICU stays.
To learn more about high-risk pregnancies and Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialists, view our infographic.
If you are currently experiencing a high-risk pregnancy and need additional support, would like to set up an appointment, or just have a question for us, please contact us here.