What is a high-risk pregnancy?

A high-risk pregnancy is the medical terminology for pregnancies that, due to certain conditions of the mother, fetus, or both, have a high probability of complications.

Complications may occur during pregnancy, during childbirth, or after labor. The doctor should be vigilant and should monitor the pregnancy closely to prevent or diagnose anything wrong early on.

These pregnancies can cause problems such as:

  • Reduced fetal growth rate
  •  Premature birth
  •  Preeclampsia
  •  Placenta problems
  •  Bleeding

However, a high-risk pregnancy does not mean that complications will occur for either the fetus or the mother. 

Reasons that classify a pregnancy as high-risk are complications which may occur during pregnancy or pre-existing health or pathological conditions.

What are the factors that pre-exist and classify a pregnancy as high-risk from the beginning?

  •  The mother being under the age of 17 or over the age of 35
  •  Overweight or underweight (weigh less than 46 kg) mother
  •  Height is less than 1.5 meters
  •  Hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism
  •  Problems that occurred in a previous pregnancy such as premature birth, fetal loss, preeclampsia, or diabetes
  •  Three or more miscarriages in the past
  •  Fibromyomas
  •  More than 5 births
  •  Taking certain medications such as lithium, Depakene
  •  Health problems and illnesses such as chronic hypertension, diabetes, epilepsy, kidney disease, cancer, heart valve disease, sickle cell disease, asthma, lupus erythematosus, or rheumatoid arthritis
  •  Pregnancy after infertility treatment

Factors which can classify a high-risk pregnancy:

  • Gestational diabetes and hypertension that did not exist before but occurred during pregnancy
  •  More than one fetus (multiple pregnancy)
  •  Premature birth (going into labor before 37 weeks)
  •  Infections during pregnancy such as cytomegalovirus, chickenpox, rubella, toxoplasmosis
  •  Genetic conditions of the fetus such as Down Syndrome or heart, lungs, or kidneys problems
  •  Alcohol consumption or smoking
  •  Fever

Monitoring a high-risk pregnancy:

A woman with a high-risk pregnancy is being monitored as follows:

  • More frequent medical visits
  •  Specialized tests and examinations (depending on the problem)
  •  Blood tests
  •  Amniocentesis
  •  Ultrasound and monitoring of the fetus
  •  Women with pre-existin risk factors before pregnancy should visit their obstetrician before becoming pregnant and immediately after their positive pregnancy test
  • Sexual intercourse should be avoided
  •  Pregnant women should maintain a healthy diet
  • In case of bleeding, should contact the doctor or midwife immediately.
  • Sexual intercourses should be avoided