Experts Guide to a High-Risk Pregnancy

What is a High-Risk Pregnancy?

Every pregnancy is a delicate period. But in a pregnancy labelled as high-risk, the health risks are increased for the foetus, pregnant person, or both. If you have been diagnosed with a high-risk pregnancy then you would require special monitoring during, before, and after childbirth. However, do remember that having a high-risk pregnancy does not necessarily mean problems for you or the foetus. By understanding the risk factors and symptoms, you can take care of yourself and the baby. 

The Symptoms of a High-Risk Pregnancy

Even if you are not considered to be having a high-risk pregnancy, immediately consult a doctor if you show the following symptoms:

  • Dizziness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Chest pain
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Relentless abdominal pain
  • Slowed or halted foetus movement 
  • Fever over 38° C
  • Vomiting and nausea that are worse than your morning sickness
  • Redness, pain, or swelling in your limbs or face
  • Severe headache that gets worse or does not go away
  • Breathing trouble
  • Vaginal discharge/bleeding

What Causes a High-Risk Pregnancy?

Several factors can make a pregnancy high-risk. They are as follows:

  • Your age (pregnant under 17 or over 35)
  • Lifestyle choices (drug addiction, smoking, alcohol abuse)
  • Health conditions related to pregnancy (pre-eclampsia)
  • Pre-existing health issues (diabetes, lupus, hypertension, obesity)

When to See a Doctor?

Pregnancy-related complications can occur up to six weeks after delivery. You are required to have a close follow-up and pay attention to your health. If you notice anything out of normal, contact your healthcare provider immediately.

The Risk Factors

You may have any of the below-given health conditions which might make your pregnancy high-risk. The pre-existing health conditions to look for are:

  • Mental health disorders like depression
  • Blood clotting disorders
  • Thyroid disease
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • COVID-19
  • High blood pressure
  • Fibroids
  • HIV/AIDs
  • Autoimmune diseases like MS (multiple sclerosis)
  • Low body weight (BMI under 18.5)
  • Kidney disease


You can decrease your pregnancy issues and complications by keeping the following in mind:

  • Practise safe sex
  • Plan pregnancies between the age group of 18-34
  • Avoid drugs, alcohol, and smoking 
  • Maintain healthy body weight before getting pregnant
  • Identify potential familial and personal health risks and convey them to your doctor
  • Manage any pre-existing health issues
  • Ensure any of your long-term medications are pregnancy-friendly
  • Preconception counselling 

How is a High-Risk Pregnancy Diagnosed?

Getting thorough and early prenatal care is vital. It is the best way your doctor can detect a high-risk pregnancy. Remember to inform your healthcare provider regarding your past pregnancies and health history. 

How is a High-Risk Pregnancy Monitored?

Some of the necessary tests to monitor the foetus and your health are:

  • Urine and Blood Test - To check for any congenital conditions (birth defects) and genetic conditions.
  • Biophysical Profile - To ensure the foetus has a proper supply of oxygen by monitoring their movements, and breathing, and using ultrasound for amniotic fluid. A non-stress test is also prescribed to monitor their heart rate.
  • Ultrasonography - It is the use of sound waves to create an image of the foetus to screen for any birth defects.


If you're diagnosed with a high-risk pregnancy, you will need special monitoring throughout and after your pregnancy. This way any possibility of any complication can be limited. However, high-risk pregnancy does not necessarily mean pregnancy issues or complications. With proper preventive measures and extensive care, both the baby and you can be healthily thriving.

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1. How can I manage a high-risk pregnancy?

Management of pregnancy with high risks would entirely depend on the specific risk factors. However, your general high-risk pregnancy care should include:
1. Close obstetrician follow-up
2. Consult with a high-risk pregnancy specialist (maternal-foetal specialist)
3. Close foetal evaluation and frequent ultrasounds
4. Monitor blood pressure at home
5. Close monitoring of long-term pre-existing medications

2. What are some of the high-risk pregnancy risk factors other than pre-existing health conditions?

Factors that can contribute to a high-risk pregnancy are generally pre-existing health conditions. In other cases, you develop a medical condition during your pregnancy that leads to a risky pregnancy. They are as follows:
1. Pregnancy complications
2. Multiple pregnancies
3. Pregnancy history

3. How is a maternal-foetal medicine specialist different from an obstetrician?

A perinatologist or a maternal-foetal medicine specialist has additional three years of training on how to treat a medical condition or complication related to pregnancy. Additionally, they can also assess and treat any foetal problems. Your obstetrician will refer you to a maternal-foetal medicine specialist and coordinate with them throughout your high-risk pregnancy.

4. Do I consult a maternal-foetal specialist before getting pregnant?

It is beneficial to visit a maternal-foetal specialist before getting pregnant. They can help determine two vital aspects and they are:
1. Pre-existing health condition
2. Genetic risks

5. Will all my future pregnancies be high-risk?

Having a single high-risk pregnancy does not mean all your future pregnancies will be the same. However, your pregnancy history matters in determining the possible pregnancy complications. Therefore, do not leave out any important information that your Ob/Gyn and maternal-foetal specialist needs to know.

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