Care for high-risk pregnancies in Chesterfield County

If your pregnancy is considered high risk, it’s natural to feel alarmed. But you can also take comfort knowing Johnston-Willis Hospital has the specialists and services necessary to keep you and your baby safe.

Whether you have a history of miscarriage, are pregnant with multiples or have developed gestational diabetes, you’ll find care and support nearby. Our maternal-fetal medicine doctors (also called perinatologists) offer services that range from genetic testing and counseling to preterm birth prevention and delivery planning.

To learn more about our high-risk pregnancy services, you can speak with a registered nurse 24/7 by calling (804) 320-3627.

When you choose Johnston-Willis for high-risk pregnancy care, you gain access to a full-service hospital for exceptional prenatal care and childbirth.

Our unit also offers a Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), which is staffed with neonatal nurses and neonatologists who provide compassionate, specialized care if your baby requires additional support after birth. Receiving the Level III designation means our NICU is better equipped to care for ill and premature babies than NICUs at many other facilities.

What is a high-risk pregnancy?

A pregnancy is considered high risk if a condition gives you and/or your baby a higher chance of experiencing complications. These complications could occur during pregnancy, during labor or after delivery. Whether you have a chronic illness or other factors that affect your health, our team of specially trained maternal-fetal doctors is committed to ensuring a safe birthing experience for both mom and baby.

High-risk pregnancy conditions we treat

We provide maternal-fetal care for many conditions and situations, including:

  • Carrying twins, triplets or other multiples
  • Pre-existing medical conditions, including high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, asthma, heart disease, epilepsy, lupus and HIV
  • Medical problems that develop during pregnancy, including gestational diabetes, preeclampsia and preterm labor
  • History of miscarriage or other pregnancy complications
  • Substance use during pregnancy
  • Placenta problems, including placenta previa, placenta accreta or placental abruption
  • Fetal growth or development problems
  • Personal or family history of genetic conditions
  • Personal or family history of birth abnormalities

Comprehensive perinatology services

With our broad range of services, you can discover underlying problems, stay healthy during pregnancy, keep track of your baby’s development and feel better prepared for delivery. We offer:

  • Preconception counseling: This service is available to individuals or couples who have concerns about getting pregnant or having a healthy baby. We can counsel you on risk factors, such as advanced age, fertility issues, pre-existing medical conditions and a family history of genetic conditions.
  • Genetic testing and counseling: If you select to have genetic testing, we will thoroughly explain your results and any possible risks to your unborn baby. We will also explain the benefits and risks of fetal testing.
  • Fetal diagnostic procedures: We offer tests to screen for birth abnormalities or inherited conditions. These include amniocentesis, nuchal translucency screening and chorionic villus sampling.
  • Prenatal ultrasounds: We closely monitor your baby’s growth and development throughout your pregnancy using the latest ultrasound imaging procedures.
  • Maternal addiction program: Our team provides support to pregnant women who struggle with substance abuse. We connect you to resources to help you establish and maintain sobriety.
  • Antepartum care: If you need to be hospitalized during your pregnancy, you will stay in one of our antepartum rooms. We do everything we can to make your stay as comfortable as possible, for as long as we need to monitor your health and your baby.
  • Delivery planning: Your doctor will work closely with our maternity center team to help ensure a smooth, safe labor and delivery—and to prepare for any medical care you or your baby may need immediately after birth.

Maternal addiction program

Pregnancy can be overwhelming enough without the added challenges of addiction to drugs or alcohol. In partnership with Tucker Pavilion at Chippenham Hospital, the behavioral health unit at our sister facility, we offer a Neonatal Evaluation, Support & Treatment (NEST) Program to help women throughout central Virginia give their babies the healthiest start possible.

We treat women of all ages, from all walks of life, in a nonjudgmental environment where respect, honesty and diversity are valued.

NEST is a program that addresses substance use and helps you manage your pregnancy. It involves a partial-hospitalization program (also known as a day treatment program). You receive medical and behavioral health services several hours a day, up to five days a week, and return to your own home in the evening.

We will also connect you with the resources you need to proudly and confidently maintain sobriety as a new mom. Our program offers:

  • Safe, physician-guided detox
  • Goal setting and treatment planning
  • Daily progress meetings with you and our staff to identify areas of concern and discuss your goals
  • Structured group therapy sessions with other pregnant women
  • Introduction to other local recovery resources, including 12-step programs
  • Psychiatric evaluations and care
  • Medication management
  • Self-directed assignments focused on self-discovery, behavior insights and preventing relapse
  • Family meetings designed to help you create a healthy support system

Understanding neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS)

Women who take drugs during pregnancy give birth to babies who are addicted to those same drugs. Babies exposed to drugs and alcohol may experience problems in the womb and after birth, such as delayed development, birth abnormalities and premature birth.

Cutting your umbilical cord after birth cuts off your baby's supply of the substance, causing them to go "cold turkey." Your newborn may begin to show challenging withdrawal symptoms anywhere from 24 hours to seven days after birth.

Opioids cause most cases of NAS, although symptoms are also linked to other prescription medications, alcohol, nicotine and street drugs. Talk to your doctor right away if you are pregnant and using any of the following drugs:

  • Hydrocodone (commonly called by its brand-name, Vicodin®)
  • Oxycodone (commonly called by brand-names, OxyContin® and Percocet®)
  • Codeine
  • Morphine (commonly called by brand-names, Kadian® and Avinza®)
  • Tramadol
  • Heroin
  • Antidepressants
  • Sleeping pills (a class of drugs called benzodiazepines)

Symptoms of neonatal abstinence syndrome

NAS affects each baby differently. Factors include the type of drug used, how frequently it was used, the last time it was used and whether the baby was born full-term.

Common symptoms of NAS include:

  • Tremors
  • High-pitched crying
  • Excessive crying
  • Sleep problems
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Inability to suck or feed
  • Dehydration
  • Seizures
  • Tight muscle tone
  • Unstable body temperature