What is High Risk Pregnancy?

The term high-risk pregnancy does not in any way mean that you’re destined to have problems with your pregnancy. In fact, the majority of women who have so-called high-risk pregnancies go on to have problem-free pregnancies and give birth to healthy babies. Having a high-risk pregnancy simply means that due to a preexisting health condition — or due to a condition you develop during pregnancy — you may have a greater chance of pregnancy complications. Because of this, you’ll need extra monitoring and perhaps extra treatment to make sure everything goes smoothly with your health and your baby’s health while you’re expecting. So rest easy because extra precautions will be taken to ensure your healthy pregnancy.

Preexisting factors for a high-risk pregnancy include:

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Kidney problems
  • STDs including HIV
  • Diabetes
  • Autoimmune diseases (such as lupus)
  • Blood disorders
  • Being overweight or underweight
  • Problematic past pregnancies
  • Having had fertility problems
  • Being under 18 or over 35

Factors that can develop during pregnancy include:

  • Preeclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy that can affect the mom-to-be’s liver, kidneys, and brain)
  • Gestational diabetes (diabetes that develops during pregnancy)
  • Preterm labor (labor that starts before week 37)
  • Placenta previa (a placenta that’s lying unusually low in the uterus so that it may be covering the cervix, which can cause bleeding and early delivery)
  • HELLP Syndrome (rare but dangerous liver and blood-clotting disorder)
  • Being pregnant with multiples

Since you have been characterized your pregnancy as high risk, ask us to explain to you what specific factors have put you in that category and whether or not you should see a specialist in those areas. For instance, if you had diabetes before pregnancy, you may benefit from seeing an ob-gyn who specializes in endocrinology and pregnancy. Or if you have a heart condition, it would be a good idea to have a cardiologist on your medical team — someone you can check in with regularly as your pregnancy progresses. The more knowledgeable your practitioners are about your specific condition, the better chance you have of reducing any risks. Whether you end up going to a practitioner who specializes in high-risk pregnancies or you seek out a specialist who can consult with your current prenatal practitioner, your doctors should also be able to determine if you need any medication, and if so, which drugs you can safely take during these nine months.