As Oman sees a rise in high-risk pregnancies, one of Muscat’s top doctors outlines some of the factors surrounding the condition, and how to avoid them.
A pregnancy is considered high-risk when there are potential complications that could affect the mother, the baby or both.
Such a pregnancy could be the result of a medical condition present before pregnancy or one that arises during it.
High-risk pregnancies account for a staggering 8.2 per cent of the 4.3 million births each year.
The Sultanate has a seen a rise in high-risk pregnancy cases over the past few years. According to Dr Savita Mukherji, of the Aster Al Raffah Hospital, Ruwi, some of the pre-existing conditions that could lead to a high-risk pregnancy include, but are not limited to:
- Advanced maternal age: women above the age of 32;
- Medical history: including past miscarriages, premature birth or a family history of genetic defects;
- Underlying conditions: eg diabetes, epilepsy and blood pressure.
Furthermore, specific conditions can develop during the course of a woman’s pregnancy causing it to become high risk. These include:
- Pre-eclampsia: characterised by high blood pressure, urinary protein and swelling;
- Gestational diabetes: a type of diabetes that develops during pregnancy;
- Placenta Previa: a situation where the placenta covers the cervix.
A recent study in Oman has concluded that during a high risk pregnancy, a large number of women developed anaemia (21.8 per cent), hypertension (2 per cent) and diabetes. These disorders are only treatable through surgery or with the use of high potency drugs, which themselves can cause severe nausea and vomiting.
With more women taking up more prominent roles in the workforce, pregnancy can lead to a stressful time. This stress manifests itself in social and psychological factors that can increase the risks during pregnancy. Factors such as:
- Pre-pregnancy or pre-natal depression;
- Personal expectations or fear about pregnancy;
- Inadequate emotional support systems.
Listed below are a few recommendations, made by the Oman Medical Journal, that can mitigate the physical, social and psychological causes of a high-risk pregnancy.
- Getting at least 400mg of Folic acid daily, beginning before and continuing through the pregnancy;
- Being up to date with one’s immunisations;
- Having a healthy and wholesome diet;
- Taking regular exercise to maintain weight and prevent obesity;
- Avoiding the use of cigarettes, alcohol and drugs;
- Attending regular pre-natal check-ups with one’s gynaecologist;
- Undergoing interpersonal and cognitive behavioral therapy;
- Having acupuncture and massage to relieve bodily stress;
- Taking part in emotional support groups to address the fears and anxieties of childbirth.
Despite the difficulty in diagnosing high-risk pregnancies, advances in medical sciences have ensured that the health of the mother and child are preserved and any complications are dealt with immediately. However, if any one of the aforementioned factors come up during your pregnancy, we recommend that you consult your gynaecologist immediately.