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.
What are the 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.