High-risk Pregnancy: Causes, Risks, Treatment, and Prevention

A high-risk pregnancy is a situation that requires extra care and monitoring to ensure the safe delivery of the baby. In some cases, complications such as high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, preterm birth, placental abruption, and stillbirth can develop during pregnancy, which requires specialised tests and treatments. With knowledge, preparation, and expert support, many high-risk pregnancies can result in healthy babies.

What are the different types of high-risk pregnancies?

These include pregnancies in which the mother is over the age of 35, has previously had a premature birth, experiences a multiple-birth pregnancy, has pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure, or engages in risky behaviour such as smoking or drinking alcohol.

What causes a high-risk pregnancy?

  • Several factors, including maternal age, pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure, obesity, smoking during pregnancy, alcohol consumption, multiple pregnancies (twins or more), and a prior history of miscarriage, cause high-risk pregnancies.
  • Pre-existing infections such as cytomegalovirus can also lead to a high-risk pregnancy.
  • Uterine anomalies, genetic disorders in the baby or mother, placental abnormalities, and poor nutrition can also increase the risk.
  • In some cases, an underlying genetic condition may also increase the likelihood of a high-risk pregnancy.
  • It also develops due to unknown causes.

What are the symptoms of a high-risk pregnancy?

  • Physical symptoms include excessive weight gain, high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, and placenta previa.
  • Psychological symptoms may manifest as anxiety, depression, or other mood disorders.
  • Some women may experience abdominal pain, headaches, breathlessness, or a reduced ability to move around.
  • It is also possible to have premature contractions or labour with a heightened risk of vaginal bleeding or miscarriage.

Women with high-risk pregnancies should contact their healthcare provider if they experience any of these symptoms.

When should one see a doctor for a high-risk pregnancy?

Visitors should see a doctor immediately if they experience any of the symptoms of a high-risk pregnancy. A doctor should be consulted if there is a concern about the baby’s development. Furthermore, regular visits to a doctor should be scheduled throughout pregnancy and after delivery for monitoring purposes.

What are the treatment options for a high-risk pregnancy?

  • Treatment options for high-risk pregnancies depend on the individual patient. In some cases, medication and vitamins, restricting physical activity, lifestyle changes, and, in some cases, caesarean delivery may be recommended to reduce risk factors and improve outcomes.
  • A specialist may advise bed rest, hospitalisation, or even early delivery in more severe cases.
  • Surgery may also be required to address any complications arising during pregnancy. Additionally, close monitoring of the mother and baby throughout pregnancy is essential to spot potential issues early on and mitigate any risks.

What are the risk factors for a high-risk pregnancy?

  • A lack of prenatal care and inadequate access to healthcare can increase the risk of a high-risk pregnancy.
  • Poor nutrition, smoking, or drinking alcohol can harm the mother's and baby’s health.
  • Socioeconomic status can also affect the likelihood of a high-risk pregnancy due to a lack of access to adequate healthcare services.

How can one prevent a high-risk pregnancy?

  • It is vital to maintain a healthy lifestyle and have regular antenatal checkups. Eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, and avoiding smoking, alcohol, and drugs can help reduce the risk of complications.
  • Before becoming pregnant, women should ensure they are up-to-date on their vaccinations and take folic acid supplements.
  • It is also advisable to take steps to reduce stress levels.


A high-risk pregnancy is a complicated and challenging process that can be stressful for both the mother and the baby. Understanding the associated risks and taking steps to reduce them is essential. Taking proactive measures can help ensure a safe journey for both mother and child. By consulting with a fertility expert, pregnant women can receive invaluable guidance in managing their medical condition and making decisions about their care.

Request an appointment at Apollo Cradle, Bengaluru - Koramangala. Call 1860-500-1066 to book an appointment.

1. Can a high-risk pregnancy demand the termination of the pregnancy?

In some cases, doctors may advise against continuing the pregnancy due to associated health risks

2. How can I prepare for a high-risk pregnancy?

It is crucial for women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy to visit their doctor regularly throughout their pregnancy. Patients should also keep all scheduled appointments with specialised obstetricians and attend any recommended prenatal classes or other educational programs.

3. What are the signs of a complication during a high-risk pregnancy?

Warning signs that may indicate a problem during a high-risk pregnancy include vaginal bleeding or fluid leakage; abdominal pain; back pain; decreased fetal movement; contractions before 37 weeks; headaches, visual changes, nausea, and vomiting; elevated blood pressure; and protein in the urine.

4. Are there tests available to monitor high-risk pregnancies?

Yes, obstetricians use various tests, such as ultrasounds and Doppler studies, to monitor the baby’s growth and development during a high-risk pregnancy.

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