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From pregnancy testing, birth planning and high-risk pregnancy advice through to labor, delivery and beyond, The ChristianaCare Center for Reproductive Health specializes in innovative contraceptive techniques and provides comprehensive reproductive health services, especially for patients with complex medical issues.

High Risk Pregnancy

Young woman giving birth

If you are classed as having a high-risk pregnancy, it means that you’ll need extra care throughout the pregnancy to make sure both you and the child remain as healthy and risk-free as possible. These could only be minor issues, but in some cases the condition can even be life-threatening.

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What You Need to Know About High-Risk Pregnancies

Understanding the risk factors can help you avoid complications

When you learn that you have a high-risk pregnancy, you might feel alarmed and anxious. However, you may still experience an uneventful pregnancy. You’ll just need specialized care.

Maternal-fetal medicine (MFM) specialists, also known as perinatologists, have the advanced training and expertise to help you achieve a healthy pregnancy.

What is a high-risk pregnancy?

If you have a chronic health problem, such as hypertension (high blood pressure) or diabetes, your pregnancy is not routine. Consequently, women with a preexisting condition can benefit from preconception counseling before getting pregnant.

If you had a complication in a prior pregnancy, such as a pre-term birth or preeclampsia, you will need special care. That’s also the case if you had a child with a serious medical condition that could also affect future children.

Women over 35 or with a history of infertility or miscarriage need further evaluation and closer surveillance, as do women who are under-weight or over-weight. The use of certain prescription medications, alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana and illicit substances can place a woman at risk for health issues during her pregnancy.

What complications can arise after I get pregnant?

The presence of multiple babies — twins or triplets —can increase the risk of complications to both the mother and fetuses.

Preeclampsia, a syndrome specific to pregnant mothers, involves high blood pressure, protein in the urine and other complications. If the syndrome is not identified and properly managed, it can be life-threatening — or even fatal — for mom and baby.

Call your doctor immediately if you begin experiencing:

  • Persistent, severe headaches
  • Abdominal pain
  • Visual disturbances
  • Decreased fetal movement

Like preeclampsia, gestational diabetes develops during pregnancy and requires a specialized treatment plan and careful surveillance.

Genetic testing or an ultrasound might indicate that the child has a condition requiring input from pediatric specialists. Some babies can be treated with medications or through surgery while still in your uterus.

ChristianaCare offers a list of common tests during pregnancy. If your baby needs special care after birth, Christiana Hospital is the only high-risk delivering hospital in Delaware offering Level III neonatal intensive care.

What can a specialist in maternal-fetal medicine do for my baby and me?

MFM physicians have training in medical, surgical, obstetrical, fetal and genetic complications of pregnancy and their effects on the mother and fetus. These subspecialists work with all obstetric providers and providers in other areas of medicine, such as endocrinology, cardiology, gastroenterology, pulmonology or intensivists.

If you require care from other non-obstetric subspecialty providers, the MFM can coordinate the care and take recommendations from these physicians to produce an individualized care plan for your primary obstetrician to follow.

MFM physicians see patients both in the outpatient and inpatient setting. If you are admitted to the hospital for a prolonged period and are concurrently pregnant, it’s not unusual for your obstetrical provider to consult an MFM.

Because of their specialized training, MFM providers consult on pregnant women who arrive at the hospital for any reason — including car accidents or kidney infections — to ensure that the woman and fetus remain as healthy as possible. The MFM provider in conjunction with your primary obstetrics provider can advocate for the mother and baby, especially if other physicians are unaccustomed to managing two patients at once.

What should I do if I have a high-risk pregnancy?

The Delaware Center for Maternal and Fetal Medicine of ChristianaCare provides services to patients with high-risk pregnancies. The center’s technically advanced equipment and facilities can help diagnose your baby’s risks for genetic, growth and structural differences.

The center also integrates comprehensive genetics counseling to identify risks and help you and your family make decisions about medical care for your baby.

It’s essential that you take care of yourself, follow your health care provider’s instructions and keep your regular appointments. Build a support system of family and friends. Online support groups, such as Sidelines, can help you realize that you’re not alone and that you can successfully navigate a high-risk pregnancy.

For more information, visit:

ChristianaCare Maternity

National Institutes of Health

Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine

Our Services

Our services include:

  • Comprehensive family planning.
  • Pregnancy testing.
  • Pregnancy options counseling and surgical services.
  • Counseling on emergency contraception.
  • Adolescent reproductive health care.
  • Management of miscarriage and fetal anomaly.
  • Sterilization services, including tubal ligation and tubal occlusion.

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