What’s a High-Risk Pregnancy?

What’s a High-Risk Pregnancy?

If you’ve learned that you have a high-risk pregnancy, it’s because you or your unborn child have a higher-than-normal chance of requiring extra care or of developing a health problem during pregnancy or childbirth. 

To help you and your baby remain as healthy as possible, you can expect extra monitoring and attention during your pregnancy. 

The good news is that a high-risk pregnancy doesn’t mean that you will experience a problem, just that you’re more susceptible to having one. Getting prenatal care from high-risk pregnancy experts can prevent complications. 

Our OB/GYNs at The Association for Women’s Health Care in Chicago and Northbrook, Illinois, provide the focused prenatal management and care you and your baby need to remain as healthy as possible through childbirth.

How a high-risk pregnancy differs

With a high-risk pregnancy, you can expect more frequent prenatal visits. These visits allow us to monitor the changes that occur and how they affect your health and the health of your baby. 

While change is normal throughout pregnancy, it can have a more dramatic impact on the fragile balance that exists in many high-risk pregnancies. 

With a high-risk pregnancy, you may also undergo more specialized screenings or tests than you would if you had a low-risk pregnancy. This can include ultrasounds and blood tests in addition to other types of tests, depending on the conditions threatening your health. 

Factors that can classify a pregnancy as high risk

There are many preventable reasons that your pregnancy may be classified as high risk, as well as reasons that are not preventable. Here are some of the most common factors that contribute to having a high-risk pregnancy:


If you’re younger or older than the average pregnancy age, you may be considered at a higher risk. Pregnant teens may be less likely to get appropriate prenatal care. Having a baby when you’re under age 17 increases your risk for high blood pressure, anemia, and preterm labor. 

You can also have a high-risk pregnancy if you’re over age 35 at the time of your first pregnancy. Compared to younger women, older women who become pregnant have a higher risk of: 

Existing health conditions

Some pregnancies begin as high risk, while others become high risk when complications and health conditions develop over time. Birth defects or genetic conditions that are diagnosed as your baby develops can change the way we handle your pregnancy. 

Common health conditions may affect your pregnancy and the health of your baby. These conditions can increase your risk of complications, including miscarriage:

While chronic or pregnancy-related health conditions can alter your body’s ability to support a normal pregnancy, proper prenatal care can increase your chances of having a full-term pregnancy and a healthy baby. 

Lifestyle factors

The impact of lifestyle factors can harm your unborn baby and leave a lasting influence on their physical and mental health. 

Alcohol use increases your baby’s risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). Drinking alcohol while pregnant also increases your risk of miscarriage and stillbirth. 

Even low levels of alcohol exposure during pregnancy can have a negative effect and leave babies with long-term developmental problems. 

Using tobacco, marijuana, and prescription or illegal drugs can increase your risk of pregnancy complications. Research indicates that smoking, marijuana use, and exposure to secondhand smoke can double or triple your risk of having a stillbirth.

Pregnancy issues

Having a pregnancy with twins, triplets, or other multiples increases your risk of delivering babies who are born early and susceptible to physical and developmental problems at birth and beyond. 

A history of preterm birth, miscarriage, or early labor can increase your risk of these conditions recurring. Complications during pregnancy such as preeclampsia and gestational diabetes can also make it more challenging to maintain your health and the health of your baby during pregnancy. 

Learn more about the factors that classify a pregnancy as being high risk. Contact our Chicago or Northbrook, Illinois, office today to arrange a consultation.

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