High Risk Pregnancy
It can be unnerving when your doctor or midwife tells you that you are having a high-risk pregnancy. Concerns for the health of mom and baby are normal. The Prenatal Testing Center and the Prenatal Unit in the Providence Maternity Center are here to help you through your pregnancy.
Occasionally before birth a mother will need the full-time care only a hospital can provide. A staff of specially trained nurses closely monitor high-risk mothers and their unborn baby. During your stay we help you understand what is happening to your body and what to expect in the near future.
Consider setting up a web page on The Status
to keep friends and family up to date. Let callers know they may reach you by calling 907-562-2211 and asking the operator to connect them to your room.
Moms on hospital bed rest need lots of rest so encourage well-wishers to limit their visits.
Your doctor or midwife may request tests during your pregnancy. Some of the reasons for the tests include:
- your baby is late
- you have preeclampsia or pregnancy induced hypertension
- your baby seems small for your expected due date
- you have had previous problems in pregnancy
- you have other medical problems such as diabetes, kidney disease, high blood pressure or severe anemia
- your baby is not as active as expected
Examples of the tests your doctor or midwife may request include:
A non-stress test evaluates your unborn baby's heart beat as it relates to his or her movements. This test provides information on how well your baby is doing and gives some indication of how well he or she will tolerate the stresses of labor. The baby's heart rate should increase slightly when he or she moves, just as your heart rate increases when you run or walk fast.
During the test you will be on a bed either in a slightly sitting position or on your side. Two monitoring leads will be placed on your abdomen with belts so that your uterine activity and your baby's heart beat can be recorded together. You may be asked to push a button every time you feel the baby move.
The test takes 20-40 minutes. Since the baby should be awake during the test, your baby might need to be stimulated by the nurse if he or she is sleeping. The nurse does this by pushing gently on your uterus to wake your baby or by using a vibro acoustic stimulator.
A biophysical profile is a way to look at your unborn baby and evaluate physical characteristics, which will help your caregiver assess the health of your baby.
The nurse will use an ultrasound machine to look at the baby through your abdominal and uterine walls. The room will be darkened, and you will be on the bed in a slightly sitting position. You and your baby will not feel anything except for some possible pressure.
The nurse will look for breathing movements of the baby's chest, watch for the baby to move, watch for the baby to kick or move its hands and look for the amount of amniotic fluid around the baby.
Amniotic fluid index
Amniotic fluid is a method of measuring the amount of amniotic fluid surrounding your baby. The amount of amniotic fluid may vary with obstetrical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, the size of your baby, and if you are past your expected date of delivery.
During the procedure you will be lying on a bed. The nurse will use an ultrasound machine to look for pockets of amniotic fluid. All four sections of your uterus will be scanned and measured one at a time. The nurse will notify your doctor or midwife with the final amniotic fluid index number.
Doppler flow study
There are several conditions during pregnancy that can alter the speed of the blood flow in the umbilical vessels between the placenta and the baby. Some of these conditions are twins, preeclampsia (hypertension), intra-uterine growth restriction (small baby for estimated dates), diabetes, Rh sensitization and maternal vascular conditions.
During the procedure you will be placed on a bed in a semi-sitting position. An ultrasound machine will be used to locate the baby's umbilical cord. When the cord is found, you will hear the heart beat and see a picture on the ultrasound machine while the doctor takes some measurements. Usually three samples are taken.
You and your baby will not feel anything during the test.
For more information
To find general information and specific health topics, visit our online health library