Department of

Obstetrics & Gynaecology

High Risk Pregnancy

A high-risk pregnancy is one in which some conditions put the mother, the developing baby, or both at higher than normal risk for complications during or after the pregnancy and birth. About 10-15% of pregnancies are high-risk pregnancies. They often require specialised care from specially trained providers.

It is always advisable to a couple who is planning a pregnancy to consult a healthcare provider. The healthcare provider might prescribe a daily prenatal vitamin with folic acid along with a guide to reach a healthy weight before attaining pregnancy. If one has a medical condition, the treatment might need to be adjusted to prepare for pregnancy. Your health care provider might also discuss your risks of having a baby with a genetic condition.

Factors contributing to a high-risk pregnancy include:

  • Advanced maternal age: As the age advances, the chances of complexities in pregnancy also rise. The age of 35 and beyond is considered as advanced maternal age.
  • Lifestyle choices: Lifestyle choices like smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol or using illegal drugs during pregnancy can create complications in pregnancy.
  • Medical history: If a woman has a medical history of issues like chronic hypertension, diabetes, heart disorders, breathing problems such as poorly controlled asthma, infections, and blood-clotting disorders such as deep vein thrombosis, it may lead complications in pregnancy.
  • Surgical history: A history of surgery on your uterus, including multiple C-sections, multiple abdominal surgeries or surgery for uterine tumours (fibroids), can increase pregnancy risks.
  • Pregnancy complications: Various complications that develop during pregnancy such as an abnormal placenta position, foetal growth less than the 10th percentile for gestational age (foetal growth restriction) or Rh (rhesus) sensitisation – a potentially serious condition that can occur when a woman’s blood group is Rh negative and the baby’s blood group is Rh positive can pose risks to the mother and the baby.
  • Pregnancies with twins or higher: Pregnancy risks are higher for women carrying twins or higher order multiples.

Symptoms of high-risk pregnancy:

During pregnancy, a lady needs to look after health with care. You should look out for the following symptoms which may indicate high-risk pregnancy:

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Pain in the lower abdomen
  • Watery vaginal discharge
  • Regular or frequent contractions — a tightening sensation in the abdomen
  • Decreased foetal activity
  • Urination with pain

If you experience any of the above symptoms, make sure visit your health care provider as soon as possible.

Care to be taken in high-risk pregnancy:

  • Seek regular prenatal care: Prenatal visits can help your health care provider monitor your health and your baby’s health. Depending on the circumstances, you might be referred to a specialist in maternal-foetal medicine, genetics, paediatrics or other areas.
  • Consume a healthy diet: During pregnancy, a woman needs more folic acid, protein, calcium and iron. A daily prenatal vitamin can help fill in any gaps. Your health care provider recommends special nutrition if needed due to a health condition such as diabetes.
  • Watch your weight: Gaining the right amount of weight can support your baby’s health – and make it easier to shed the extra pounds after delivery. Work with your health care provider to determine what’s right for you.
  • Avoid risk substances: Smoking, alcohol and illegal drugs are off-limits. Get your health care provider’s affirmation before you start – or stop – taking any medications or supplements.

It is possible to have a healthy baby even in case of high-risk pregnancy. However, it is vital to seek expert guidance and supervision throughout such a pregnancy. It is important to complete the course of medicines suggested by the expert. Stopping the medications without the prior approval of the expert can be harmful to you, the baby or both.

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