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What is a high risk pregnancy? That is a question that many women think about, whether they are trying to get pregnant, already pregnant, or have had their pregnancy classified as high risk. Risk assessment forms a large part of maternity care, and many factors can lead a pregnancy to receive that infamous label of "high risk". We'll discuss what specifically earns you the high-risk classification.

While every pregnancy (and every life, for that matter!) carries some inherent risks, high-risk pregnancies have higher chances of complications occurring. They often require additional monitoring and special care specifically related to the factor that made the pregnancy high risk. These circumstances, which can be preexisting or arise during pregnancy, often mean that women who are experiencing high-risk pregnancies will be seen by obstetricians who specialize in high-risk gestations, which are called high-risk OBs (you could not have guessed that one by yourself, could you?). What makes a pregnancy high risk, in concrete terms?

Preexisting factors

Type 1 Diabetes Chronic hypertension (high blood pressure) Advanced maternal age. This one is debatable, but it does get some women stuck with the high risk label, so we thought we'd mention it. Maternal obesity this one comes with the same disclaimer as the last point. We don't want to insult anyone, but many OBs classify pregnancies where the mother is very overweight as high risk. History of miscarriage, preterm labor, or stillbirth Heart disease Autoimmune disorders

Factors related to the current pregnancy

Twin or higher multiple pregnancy. Gestational diabetes. Pregnancy hypertension. A very low-lying placenta or a complete placenta previa. In the last case the placenta covers the cervix and the baby cannot be delivered vaginally. The start of labor often triggers bleeding, which is why careful monitoring and an early planned cesarean section are recommended. A baby with a known birth defect.

This is not a complete list there are additional factors that contribute to a pregnancy being treated as high risk. If you have any questions about conditions not listed, or about those we did list, feel free to ask away!

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