What Makes a Pregnancy High Risk?
Our specially trained high-risk obstetricians provide high-quality care for conditions that can make a pregnancy high risk. We offer all the expert care you need so your baby can arrive safely close to home.
Datasource: Patricia's preeclampsia story
Maternal High-Risk Conditions
You might have a pre-existing condition that raises pregnancy risks, or you might develop a condition during pregnancy.
Complications During Pregnancy
Some common maternal high-risk conditions that can create pregnancy complications include:
- Abnormal bleeding. Bleeding can be a sign of problems with the cervix or placenta. It can also be a sign of infection.
- Certain infections. Some infections during pregnancy can put your baby at risk of congenital (present at birth) disabilities or other issues. These infections might include the Zika virus, toxoplasmosis (a parasite) or even chickenpox.
- Gestational diabetes. Some women who do not have diabetes can develop the condition during pregnancy. These women need to control their blood sugar to prevent complications.
- Gestational hypertension and preeclampsia. Some women who do not have high blood pressure (hypertension) before pregnancy can develop preeclampsia during pregnancy. Dangerously high blood pressure can damage your organs. Symptoms can include severe headaches, dizziness, nausea, swelling in your hands or feet, or changes in your vision. While you can’t always prevent preeclampsia, your doctor can help you control your blood pressure with medicines. However, you might need to give birth early if your blood pressure is too high.
- Oligohydramnios. Women with oligohydramnios have too little amniotic fluid. Without enough fluid, your baby cannot develop lungs or kidneys normally.
- Placental conditions. Several conditions can affect the placenta, the organ that helps nourish and support your baby. Placental conditions like placenta accreta spectrum can lead to dangerous bleeding.
- Polyhydramnios. With this condition, women have too much amniotic fluid. It can increase your risk of giving birth early.
- Premature rupture of membranes. If your water breaks too early, it can put your baby at risk of infection or premature birth.
- Rhesus Rh sensitization. If you and your baby have different blood types, your body’s immune system may begin attacking your baby.
- Uterine rupture. In this very rare condition, your uterus tears open before birth, requiring emergency care.
Placenta accreta spectrum is a condition where the placenta grows into the wall of your uterus, putting you at risk of severe bleeding. Though rare, it is more common in women who’ve had previous uterine surgeries, such as a C-section. Our highly specialized high-risk OB team at Memorial Regional Hospital provides around-the-clock placenta accreta spectrum care to help keep you and your baby safe.
Some health conditions you already have may increase your risk of complications during pregnancy. They include:
- Autoimmune disorders, like lupus
- Gynecologic conditions such as uterine fibroids and short cervix
- Heart conditions such as cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure or having a previous heart surgery to repair part of the heart or implant a pacemaker
- Blood and bone marrow disorders, including sickle cell anemia, idiopathic thrombocytopenia (ITP) and blood clotting problems
- Kidney failure or insufficiency
- Neurological conditions, including seizure disorders like epilepsy
Our high-risk obstetrics team will work closely with your physicians to monitor your health and keep you safe during pregnancy.
Other Pregnancy & Delivery Risk Factors
Talk to your doctor about your medical history and potential risk factors that mean you need extra care. You may have high-risk pregnancy if you:
- Are 35 or older or younger than 17
- Are pregnant with more than one baby (twins, triplets, etc.)
- Are overweight or obese
- Had complications during a past pregnancy or delivery
- Had a previous cesarean section (C-section) or other gynecologic (female reproductive system) procedures
- Had gastric bypass (weight-loss) surgery
- Had a kidney, heart or another organ transplant
- Receive dialysis treatments for kidney failure
- Smoke, drink alcohol or use drugs during pregnancy
You can feel peace of mind knowing Memorial Healthcare System’s team has experience caring for patients like you. You and your baby’s comfort, safety and well-being are our only focus.
Fetal & Newborn Conditions
Your baby might also have conditions that can make your pregnancy high risk. Specialists at Memorial Healthcare System, including Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, provide care for both mother and baby seamlessly, coordinating all your family’s health needs.
Some conditions that may affect babies include:
- Congenital malformations of the digestive tract. These defects can affect your child’s digestive system, from their esophagus to their intestines or anus.
- Heart problems. Your child may be born with a congenital heart defect that affects how well their heart works.
- Neurologic disorders. These conditions, such as spina bifida or microcephaly, affect your child’s brain, spine and nerves.
- Kidney (renal) and urological conditions. These conditions affect how your child’s urinary tract, including the kidneys and bladder, develop.
Thanks to advanced technology, doctors at Memorial Healthcare System can often diagnose these conditions early, sometimes before your child is even born. We have a team of pediatric specialists to provide immediate care either before or after birth, based on your child’s needs and condition.