What Is a High-Risk Pregnancy?

A few surprises along the way are expected for every pregnancy. What isn’t normal is when these things put the health of you and your baby at risk.

Several factors can make a pregnancy more complicated. You should work with your healthcare provider to find these issues and track them during your pregnancy. With a high risk pregnancy, you may see a specialist. This doctor is called a perinatologist or maternal-fetal specialist. You and your healthcare provider will decide if this specialist is right for you.

When mom has a health condition

Having a health issue before you got pregnant can complicate a pregnancy. These health problems include the following:

  • Lupus

  • Asthma

  • Sickle cell anemia

  • Thyroid disease

  • Type 1 or type 2 diabetes

  • Overweight and obesity

Age is another factor. Older pregnant women have a higher risk of genetic issues than younger moms.

When new problems pop up

Some health problems can start during pregnancy. They can cause problems. Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is a type of diabetes that occurs only in pregnancy.

High blood pressure that comes on during pregnancy can put both mom and baby at risk. This is called gestational hypertension. It can lead to preeclampsia.

Preterm labor is labor that starts before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Babies born too early are at risk for problems. This is because their organs, such as their lungs and brain, aren’t fully formed.

Twins: Why they can be risky

Expecting twins is also high-risk. Some of the concerns with twins include the following:

  • Preeclampsia is more common in women expecting twins.

  • Twins are more likely to be born early. This puts the babies at a higher risk for health issues.

  • Gestational diabetes is more common in women who are expecting twins.

Talk with your healthcare provider if you have any concerns about your pregnancy. 

Online Medical Reviewer: Bowers, Nancy, RN, BSN, MPHFoley, Maryann, RN, BSN

Date Last Reviewed: 4/12/2016

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