If you are expecting and you have a high-risk pregnancy, every day that passes is a milestone as you continue to carry your baby. Whether you have an underlying health condition, you are an older woman, you have a history of miscarriages, or some other risk factor, you face special challenges while you are expecting. Making it to the third trimester is cause for celebration. The finish line is in sight and you have a greater chance of carrying your baby full term. Now you need to prepare for the final stretch and know what to expect.
Visits to a High-Risk Obstetrician Increase
Most expectant mothers see their obstetrician once a month until the last month when visits will become monthly. If you have a high-risk pregnancy, you will likely be referred to a maternal-fetal specialist (Source: Dr. Gilbert Webb). Expect to make visits to the doctor’s office more often in the last three months as you continue to carry your baby. You and your baby will be monitored closely in anticipation of any complications. The goal is to reach the 36 week mark if at all possible to avoid a premature birth.
Expect Tests and Screenings
As you head into the last stretch of your pregnancy, your obstetrician will request testing to head off any problems that may arise. Expect to be screened for a GBS infection, otherwise known as a group B streptococcus infection. This is a type of bacteria that is commonly found in the vagina for many women without any adverse effects. However, it can cause a life-threatening infection for your baby upon delivery. If the bacteria is present, you will be put on antibiotics when you go into labor to protect your baby. A non-stress test is likely as well. This test is generally performed after you have reached the 26 week period. The doctor will be monitoring your baby’s movements and heart beat in order to gauge response to stimuli. A buzzer may be used if your baby is sleeping or inactive in order to trigger a response. An ultrasound will be performed to check your baby’s development, including the development of the heart, lungs, kidneys, and liver. Ultrasound is used in order to guide your doctor during an amniocentesis procedure. Amniocentesis is common in the third trimester for high-risk pregnancies to ensure your baby’s lungs are developed enough in the event of an early delivery. The doctor can check for infection in the amniotic fluid as well.
Be Prepared for Possible Complications in the Final Stages of Pregnancy
As a mother with a high-risk pregnancy, you may be more likely to develop complications, such as gestational diabetes, a temporary condition that will resolve itself after pregnancy. Ask your doctor about being tested. Preeclampsia is more common at this point as well in which you have a sudden, dramatic spike in blood pressure. If you have a severe headache, problems with your vision, or intense pain in your abdomen, seek medical attention to avoid the risk of stroke and seizures. Your water may break early or you could go into preterm labor. You may also have issues with your placenta, such as previa placenta that causes the placenta to become implanted over the opening of your cervix. Heavy, sudden bleeding is an indicator of this problem. Be sure to see your doctor if this should occur.
A high-risk pregnancy brings many challenges with it. However, making it to the third trimester is reason for hope. Keep your appointments with your obstetrician, follow all instructions to the letter, and take care of yourself. Listen to your body and rest when you need it. Be sure to stay in touch with your doctor if you have any concerns in order to have peace of mind as the end approaches.
~ Lizzie Weakley ~
Thanks Lizzie for this great article!