It can be scary and overwhelming to learn you have a “high-risk pregnancy.” The first thing you should do: Take a deep breath.

“Many women with a high-risk pregnancy have an uneventful nine months,” said Edward Wolfgram, MD and department chief of obstetrics and gynecology at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center. “We just put in the extra effort to closely watch their babies’ development.”

Here are three things you should know about having a high-risk pregnancy:

1. The definition of “high risk” is expanding.

Today, high-risk pregnancies are more common because more conditions and health issues are screened and treated as high risk. “A high-risk pregnancy, to me, means there is a higher than normal risk for complications during pregnancy or delivery,” says Dr. Wolfgram.

High-risk pregnancies include:

  • Over age 35
  • Previous pre-term births
  • Family history of certain conditions or genetic diseases
  • History of stillbirth
  • Tobacco, drug or alcohol addiction
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes (prior to pregnancy or gestational diabetes)
  • Multiple pregnancy (twins, triplets, etc.)
  • Too little or too much amniotic fluid around the baby
  • Placenta previa, accreta or other issues with placenta

Your doctor will talk to you if you have any of the conditions listed above, or one of the many others that can put you at higher risk of developing complications during your pregnancy.

2. You and your baby will receive exceptional care.

Women with high-risk pregnancies see their doctors more often and have more ultrasound appointments. Depending on your condition and diagnosis, you may see the doctor as often as once a week or every other week. Typically, you will see the doctor more often as your due date approaches.

3. You can take steps to reduce your chances of a high-risk pregnancy.

You may not be able to completely prevent your pregnancy from becoming high risk, but you can take several steps to keep yourself and your baby healthy:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Avoid tobacco and other illegal substances
  • Exercise regularly

And finally, keep in mind that a high-risk pregnancy doesn’t make yours any less enjoyable.

“I want to stress to anyone that has been told they have a high-risk pregnancy that the vast majority of the time, your pregnancy will go on to be uncomplicated,” Dr. Wolfgram states. “You will still have a treasured experience – one you can anticipate and plan just as you would without a high-risk diagnosis.”