High Risk Pregnancy

A high-risk pregnancy might pose challenges before, during or after delivery. If you have a high-risk pregnancy, you and your baby might need special monitoring or care throughout your pregnancy. Understand what causes a high-risk pregnancy, and what you can do to take care of yourself and your baby.

Risk factors for a high-risk pregnancy?

Sometimes a high-risk pregnancy is the result of a medical condition present before pregnancy. In other cases, a medical condition that develops during pregnancy for either mom or baby causes a pregnancy to become high risk.

Specific factors that might contribute to a high-risk pregnancy include:

  • Advanced maternal age: Pregnancy risks are higher for mothers age 35 and older.
  • Lifestyle choices: Smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol and using illegal drugs can put a pregnancy at risk.
  • Medical history: A prior C-section, low birth weight baby or preterm birth — birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy — might increase the risks for subsequent pregnancies. Other risk factors include a fetal genetic condition, a family history of genetic conditions, a history of pregnancy loss or the death of a baby shortly after birth.
  • Underlying conditions: Chronic conditions — such as diabetes, high blood pressure and epilepsy — increase pregnancy risks. A blood condition, such as anemia, an infection or an underlying mental health condition also can increase pregnancy risks.
  • Pregnancy complications: Various complications that develop during pregnancy pose risks, such as problems with the uterus, cervix or placenta, or severe morning sickness (hyperemesis gravidarum) that continues past the first trimester. Other concerns might include too much amniotic fluid (polyhydramnios) or too little amniotic fluid (oligohydramnios), restricted fetal growth or Rh (rhesus) sensitization — a potentially serious condition that can occur when your blood group is Rh negative and your baby’s blood group is Rh positive.
  • Multiple pregnancy: Pregnancy risks are higher for women carrying twins or higher order multiples.
  • Overdue pregnancy: You might face additional risks if your pregnancy continues too long beyond the due date.

If you have a high-risk pregnancy, you might consider various tests or procedures in addition to routine prenatal screening tests. Depending on the circumstances, your health care provider might recommend:

  • Specialized or targeted ultrasound: This type of fetal ultrasound — an imaging technique that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of a baby in the uterus — targets a suspected problem, such as abnormal development.
  • During this procedure, a sample of the fluid that surrounds and protects a baby during pregnancy (amniotic fluid) is withdrawn from the uterus. Typically done after week 15 of pregnancy, amniocentesis can identify certain genetic conditions, as well as neural tube defects — serious abnormalities of the brain or spinal cord.
  • Chorionic villus sampling (CVS): During this procedure, a sample of cells is removed from the placenta. Typically done between weeks 10 and 12 of pregnancy, CVS can identify certain genetic conditions.
  • This test, also known as percutaneous umbilical blood sampling, is a highly specialized prenatal test in which a fetal blood sample is removed from the umbilical cord. Typically done after week 18 of pregnancy, the test can identify chromosomal conditions, blood disorders and infections.
  • Cervical length measurement: Your health care provider might use an ultrasound to measure the length of your cervix at prenatal appointments to determine if you’re at risk of preterm labor.
  • Lab tests: Your health care provider might take a swab of your vaginal secretions to check for fetal fibronectin — a substance that acts like a glue between the fetal sac and the lining of the uterus. The presence of fetal fibronectin might be a sign of preterm labor.
  • Biophysical profile.This prenatal test is used to check on a baby’s well-being. The test combines fetal heart rate monitoring (nonstress test) and fetal ultrasound.

Some prenatal diagnostic tests — such as amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling — carry a small risk of pregnancy loss. Ultimately, the decision to pursue prenatal testing is up to you and your partner. Discuss the risks and benefits with your health care provider.

Signs or symptoms to look out for, such as:

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Persistent headaches
  • Pain or cramping in the lower abdomen
  • Watery vaginal discharge — in a gush or a trickle
  • Regular or frequent contractions — a tightening sensation in the abdomen
  • Decreased fetal activity
  • Pain or burning with urination
  • Changes in vision, including blurred vision
  • A high-risk pregnancy might have ups and downs. Do your best to stay positive as you take steps to promote a healthy pregnancy.

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Dr. Neeta Warty

MBBS, MD, DGO

Consultant Obstetrics & Gynecology

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Dr. Vinita Salvi

MBBS, MD, DNBE, FCPS, DGO, DFP (OBSTETRICS & GYNAECOLOGY), M.Phil (sports science)

Consultant Obstetrics & Gynecology

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Dr. Cherry Shah

MBBS, MD (OBS & GYN), DGO

Consultant Obstetrics & Gynecology

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Dr. Suchitra Pandit

MD, DNB, FRCOG (UK), FICOG, DFP, MNAMS B.Pharm

Consultant Obstetrics & Gynecology

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Dr. Vandana Bansal

BSTETRICIAN & GYNAECOLOGY, MD, DNB, MNAMS, MRCOG(UK), FNB(HIGH RISK PREGNANCY & PERINATOLOGY)

Director, Department of Fetal Medicine

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Dr. Rekha Ambegaokar

MBBS, MD (OBS & GYN), DGO

Consultant Obstetrics & Gynecology

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Dr. Dhrupti Dedhia

MBBS , DGO , MD - Obstetrics & Gynaecology

Consultant Obstetrics & Gynecology

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MBBS, MD, DNB, DGO, PGDCR-PG, DIPLOMA IN CLINICAL RESEARCH

Consultant Obstetrics & Gynecology

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Dr. Hemlata Hardasani

MBBS, DGO, DIPLOMA IN LAPROSCOPY

Consultant Obstetrics & Gynecology

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Dr. Sejal Ajmera

MD, DNB, MICOG, FCPS, DGO, DFP

Consultant Obstetrics & Gynecology

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