In recent years, high risk pregnancies are on the rise, partially due to health conditions like diabetes and hypertension, and partially due to the trend of women delaying pregnancy until their mid to late 30’s or even 40’s. However, we’ve treated far too many patients who agonize during their pregnancies, not because of their risk factors but because they have a lack of information or misinformation about exactly what to expect. While certain health conditions can put you at a higher risk for complications, every case is unique. In our experience, most challenges are not insurmountable.
There are two things that make the probable outcome a good one – sound medical advice and taking good care of yourself. We’ve had patients with every complication you can think of, even patients who have undergone chemo and a mom-to-be with an irregular heartbeat using a pacemaker, all of who have had normal pregnancies delivering healthy babies. The reason is simple. Medicine has advanced and made those situations less risky. Please don’t let what may not seem ideal on paper scare you. With the proper advice and care, a good outcome is certainly possible. Take Dr. Bohn’s personal experience.
Three weeks before I turned 42, I gave birth to Kylie. At a high risk of having a baby with Downs Syndrome (a one in 40 chance), naturally I was anxious. I did my first trimester test, knowing that I’d eventually do an amniocentesis and too nervous to do a CVS in those early stages. The first test showed a risk factor of one in 78, better than the average age-related risk. The weeks and days waiting to do the amnio and get the results were like they were for any expectant mother, regardless of being a doctor and knowing the difference between medical facts and fiction. Despite the odds, my amnio came back normal, and the rest of my pregnancy was without complication or worry.
Dr. Bohn recommends the same process to all expectant moms, regardless of age. The truth is that while popular belief has Down syndrome as result of older mothers, there are actually more babies with Downs born to women under 35, simply because there are more moms having children at that age than who are over 40.
While some may have a low risk following the screening, others may find a higher risk. Either way, it allows them to make an informed decision as to whether they want to proceed with more invasive testing. There are so many myths and misunderstandings about pregnancy and childbirth. We want women to know that even high-risk complications can be taken care of, as long as the right team of doctors and specialists are there.
In our combined 45 years of experience, we’ve seen it all. Nothing prepared us more to handle high-risk situations than our residencies at USC, delivering as many as 25 babies a day at Los Angeles County Hospital. Almost every pregnancy was a high-risk situation, from sick moms to sick babies and everything in between. Life-or-death decisions needed to be made in a split second with every shift.
And beyond our practice, we have all had some sort of a complication during our own pregnancies that made us “high risk.” But we all made it through and between the three of us, we have six beautiful, healthy children between the ages of one and a half to nine and a half. Remember that the likelihood of such high risk complications developing is not high, but if it does become a reality, have confidence in your team of doctors that they have the knowledge, experience, and ability to ensure a safe, healthy delivery for you and your baby.