What Is a High-Risk Pregnancy?

When you learn your pregnancy is high risk, it can turn your excitement into feelings of anxiety and uncertainty. It’s normal to feel uneasy about a high-risk pregnancy, but with the right pregnancy care, most women with high-risk pregnancies stay healthy and deliver healthy babies.

Our Las Vegas, Nevada-based team, at Women's Health Associates of Southern Nevada, Northwest, provides pregnancy services to women with high-risk pregnancies as well as low-risk pregnancies. Our experienced OB/GYNs, Anita Gondy, MD, Saovaros Michaels, MD, and Henry Luh, DO, explain what a high-risk pregnancy is and what to expect during your pregnancy.

Understanding high-risk pregnancy

Having a high-risk pregnancy means you have one or more factors that raise your or your baby’s risk during pregnancy or delivery. You can be classified as high risk throughout your pregnancy or become high risk during a later trimester.

Being high risk means you might need more frequent monitoring from our team during your pregnancy. You might also need to follow certain guidelines to ensure you have a safe pregnancy and delivery.

What makes a pregnancy high risk?

There are a number of reasons our doctors can determine your pregnancy is high risk. Your pregnancy is more likely to be high risk if you have one or more of the following risk factors.

Health conditions before pregnancy

Some pre-existing health conditions increase the odds you’ll experience complications during pregnancy. Some of the most common include high blood pressure, diabetes, HIV, Zika, or obesity.

Health problems during pregnancy

You can also develop conditions in pregnancy that make your pregnancy high risk. Examples of high-risk pregnancy conditions are gestational diabetes, a form of diabetes that develops during pregnancy, and preeclampsia, which causes your blood pressure to increase suddenly and significantly 20 weeks or later into pregnancy.

A history of previous pregnancy complications

When you’ve had certain complications during previous pregnancies, you’re more likely to develop them in subsequent pregnancies. For instance, you’re at greater risk of going into preterm labor, which is going into labor before 37 weeks, if you previously experienced preterm labor.

Being pregnant with multiples or a baby with health risks

Multiple births are generally considered high risk. This is because women carrying twins or triplets are at higher risk of complications such a preterm labor than women carrying a single fetus.

Your pregnancy can also be high risk because our doctors have determined your unborn child has a condition that needs treatment during or after pregnancy. Spina bifida and down syndrome are two conditions where babies often need treatment while you’re pregnant or just after birth.

Your age

Pregnant women who are older than 35 or younger than 17 are more likely to have a high-risk pregnancy. Your risk is higher if you’re over 35 and also expecting for the first time, than if you’ve been pregnant previously.

Pregnancy care with a high-risk pregnancy

All high-risk pregnancies are unique. Once our OB/GYNs determine your pregnancy is high risk, they develop a care plan to keep you and your baby safe and healthy.

Generally, high-risk pregnancies require more monitoring than low-risk pregnancies. This might mean you’ll come to more appointments with our team and have additional ultrasounds.

Our doctors might also give you specialized instructions to follow to ensure you and your baby remain healthy. It’s important to follow all guidelines they give you and contact our office if you notice any changes.

At WHASN - NW, we monitor women with many kinds of high-risk pregnancies and maintain relationships with high-risk pregnancy specialists and hospitals. If you’re pregnant or considering conceiving and are concerned about a high-risk pregnancy, make an appointment by calling or emailing our office today.

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