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What Is High Risk Pregnancy – Causes and Preventive Measures

What Is High Risk Pregnancy – Causes and Preventive Measures
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Pregnancy comes with different vibes for different people. A lot of women enjoy a healthy pregnancy. Meanwhile, a lot more must deal with complications, taking care not to lose the pregnancy before the due date.

What Is High Risk Pregnancy - Causes and Preventive Measures
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What is high risk pregnancy? Any pregnancy that endangers the health of a mother and/or her fetus is known as a high-risk pregnancy.

This condition requires intensive care from a specially trained health care provider.

In some women, the pregnancy becomes high risk as it progresses. On the other hand, for some other women, there is a probability that complications may arise if they get pregnant. This could be as a result of certain factors.

Video: What Is High Risk Pregnancy

If you prefer learning by video, this article is also explained here.

If this is your first pregnancy and it has already been termed “high risk,” you may feel depressed. Do not get worried because it can be bad for you and the baby.

Talk to your partner because you need all the support you can get.

In addition to finding a support system, you may want to check out social groups for women with high-risk pregnancies.

There will be lots of story sharing, which may petrify you, but the most important thing is that you will get the feeling of not being alone.

Also, women who have scaled through pregnancies that were high risk will share information on how they survived it.

Causes of High Risk Pregnancy

There are certain factors that can lead to high-risk pregnancies. Let’s examine some of them.

An Existing Health Condition

High Blood Pressure

This condition is also referred to as hypertension. Blood pressure (BP) is said to be high when it is greater than or equal to 130/80 millimeters of mercury.

Consequently, this issue needs to be handled properly during pregnancy as it could result in a lot of complications which will be dangerous for the woman and the baby.

However, high BP in pregnancy can be managed to ensure that a mother gives birth to a healthy baby.

Therefore, every pregnant woman needs to have blood pressure checks during prenatal visits. You can also check your blood pressure at home.

Buy an automatic blood pressure monitor on Amazon.

At any period in the pregnancy, where there is a change in the blood pressure values, the health care provider will know what to do.

But what could cause an increase in blood pressure during pregnancy?

Several factors could lead to it and they include:

  • Family history of hypertension
  • If you are pregnant for the first time
  • History of pregnancy-induced hypertension in a family
  • Obesity
  • A smoking habit
  • Alcohol drinking
  • If you are over age 35
  • If you are carrying twins
  • If you are diabetic or have other auto-immune diseases
  • An in-active lifestyle

An increase in the pressure of your blood can occur before pregnancy or in some cases, as the pregnancy develops.

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Chronic Hypertension

In this case, the woman was previously hypertensive before getting pregnant. This type of hypertension may occur before twenty weeks of pregnancy.

It may be difficult to assume when the high blood pressure started because there are no symptoms.

However, with regular blood pressure checks during the early prenatal visit, blood pressure values can be monitored.

Chronic hypertension can be treated. Your doctor or your health care provider will prescribe the one that will be suitable for your condition.

Gestational Hypertension

This condition usually comes up only when the woman is pregnant. It can also be called a pregnancy induced hypertension. It is usually prominent during second trimester or after twenty weeks of pregnancy.

In contrast to chronic hypertension, gestational hypertension goes away when the baby is delivered. It is not a permanent condition.

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Chronic High BP with Super Imposed Pre-eclampsia

This can occur when a woman was previously hypertensive, and it becomes worse during the pregnancy.

Furthermore, the woman will have a condition called proteinuria which indicates that protein is present in the tested urine.

But proteinuria can be detected through urinalysis which is part of the vitals during prenatal visits. Other complications as a result of very high BP may occur.

Pre-eclampsia and Eclampsia

These are blood pressure disorders during pregnancy. Pre-eclampsia is a sudden increase in blood pressure while eclampsia is a more severe condition that can lead to seizures.

The causes of pre-eclampsia and eclampsia are unknown, but investigation into some factors that can result to them are ongoing. Such factors are:

  • Insufficient flow of blood to the placenta
  • Genetics
  • Nutrition
  • Imbalanced hormone
  • Cardiovascular issues

Pre-eclampsia can develop after the second trimester or after the baby has been delivered which is usually rare.

However, it can be detected after measuring the blood pressure and conducting a blood or urine test.

If the blood pressure is high and there is protein in the urine, it is diagnosed as pre-eclampsia.

There are other symptoms of pre-eclampsia. They include:

  • Headache
  • Swollen hands, feet and face (edema)
  • Increase in weight due to retention of fluid in the body
  • Pains in the abdomen
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Blurry vision
  • Hypersensitivity to light (which may result in convulsion)

There are complications associated with having increased blood pressure in pregnancy. They are:

  • Abruption of the placenta
  • Stroke
  • Having a pre-term baby
  • Increase in your chances of being hypertensive in future

Additionally, if you are hypertensive or have a history of pregnancy induced hypertension, get clearance from your doctor or cardiologist before conceiving.

They will check how well your blood pressure is faring and what changes should be made in your medication.

Moreover, it is very important to adopt an active lifestyle because obesity and high blood pressure do not work well together.

So, if you are obese, you need to shed some weight and stay active.

Stay away from alcohol and cigarettes; and eat healthy foods. Reduce your salt intake and drink a lot of water.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

Video: Signs and Symptoms of PCOS

This video gives a detailed explanation on the signs and symptoms of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

Polycystic Ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a health problem. It occurs when a woman produces excess of the male hormone called androgen.

This issue is as a result of hormonal imbalance. Hence, such women will experience irregular menstruation, ovarian cyst, infertility, acne, excess hairs on chest and face.

PCOS is one of the reasons many women have difficulty in getting pregnant. As soon as they get pregnant, they face the chances of having complications.

These complications can arise during the pregnancy and delivery of the baby.

The complications faced by a PCOS woman could be

  • miscarriage
  • increase in blood pressure as a result of the pregnancy
  • having a preterm labor or delivery
  • gestational diabetes
  • pre-eclampsia

The recommendation for reducing these complications is the birth of the baby and the placenta.

Women with PCOS usually have a caesarean birth because they are likely to birth a heavy baby. Since they usually deliver pre-term babies, they are more likely to spend more time in the NICU.

Furthermore, a lot of women will never know that they have PCOS until they try to get pregnant.

However, you can still be pregnant while having PCOS. All you need to do is inform your health care provider and proper care will be given to you.

In essence, PCOS has no known cure but you can work with your doctor who will prescribe the fertility medications that are suitable for you.


Gestational diabetes can happen to pregnant women. A pregnant woman’s blood sugar level can go higher than normal.

This condition is temporal and will go away as soon as the baby is delivered.

Some women are already diabetic before pregnancy. For such women, it is necessary for them to manage their blood sugar level properly.

A high blood sugar can cause serious birth defects, even as early as few weeks after conception. Therefore, you should see your doctor before you plan to get pregnant.

Being diabetic and pregnant may lead to health problems such as:

  • pre-eclampsia
  • kidney problems
  • eye problems
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High blood sugar can also increase your chances of giving birth to a still born or have a miscarriage.

Besides that, you need to work with obstetricians and gynecologists who are experienced in handling such issues. Click here to buy a diabetes testing kit on Amazon.


This is another health condition that can lead to high-risk pregnancy. HIV can be transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

The remedy to mother – to – child transmission is proper medical care for the woman.

Consequently, pregnant women with HIV should stick to their routine medication as it does not result to any known birth defect.

Two weeks before the due date, a cesarean section will be carried out. This will be done to prevent the water from breaking, thereby placing the child at risk of being infected.

Additionally, a child born by an HIV infected woman, will be given an injection called zidovudine.

It is given for a period of four to six weeks. Depending on the situation, the baby may also be given a medication for HIV coupled with the zidovudine.

Other existing health conditions include:

  • kidney disease
  • autoimmune disease
  • heart condition
  • sexually transmitted disease
  • thyroid disease
  • obesity
  • zika infection

Maternal Age

As the age of the mother increases, there is also an increase in the chances of having a high-risk pregnancy.

In recent times, more women have decided to pursue their career and postpone childbirth for a later time.

Furthermore, women who get pregnant over age 35 are called older mothers or older primigravida.

It is not wrong when you decide to get pregnant at age 35 but there are certain health problems that may arise at that age. Such health problems are:

Decrease in Fertility

As a woman gets older, the quality of her eggs is being reduced. This also means that the chances of getting pregnant has also been reduced.

Even with the introduction of IVF and other improvements in fertility solutions, women at age 35 are less likely to conceive.

Genetic Problems

Older moms are at great risk of having babies with congenital mutation such as Down syndrome.

Other health problems caused by older maternity age are:

  • miscarriage
  • still birth
  • gestational diabetes
  • pregnancy induced high blood pressure
  • complication in delivery such as excess bleeding
  • ectopic pregnancy
  • big weight baby
  • placenta previa
  • preterm delivery
  • very low baby weight
  • stroke
  • cardiovascular disease
  • high cholesterol

Consequently, girls who get pregnant before the age of 17, are likely to have high-risk pregnancies. They are prone to anemia which is a condition that leads to shortage of blood. They are also prone to high blood pressure.

As a matter of fact, most teenagers who get pregnant may not have access to good prenatal care.

They may have a sexually transmitted infection (STI) and may still not be aware of it. This can endanger the life of the unborn child.

However, despite the vast range of risks involved in getting pregnant below age 17 and at age 35, a woman can still have a healthy baby.

All you need is to check in with your health care providers and they will help you from conception to labor and delivery.

Multiple Birth

Women who are carrying more than one baby such as twins or other fetal multiples are at risk of having complications in pregnancy. There are also increased risks of preterm birth. Other complications include:

  • low birth weight
  • gestational diabetes
  • gestational high blood pressure
  • emergency cesarean section
  • abruption of placenta
  • miscarriage
  • intrauterine growth restriction

Consequently, if you have been on a medication, your doctor may need to change it when you conceive. You will also be told to take a daily dose of folic acid and maintain a healthy weight before pregnancy.

Preterm Labor

A preterm labor is one that begins before thirty-seven weeks of gestation. This could be as a result of certain factors such as:

  • Hypertension
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Obesity or under weight
  • Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
  • Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Placenta previa
  • Risk of placenta abruption
  • Pregnancy as a result of IVF
  • Smoking and alcohol intake during pregnancy
  • A history of preterm labor
  • Stress
  • Exposure to environmental pollution

History of Surgical Operations

Your pregnancy will be termed high-risk pregnancy if you have previously had surgery on your uterus. This includes various cesarean sections, abdominal surgeries or fibroid operation.

How to Have a Healthy, High Risk Pregnancy – Preventive Measures

We have examined several conditions that can be considered as high-risk pregnancy. So you might think it is impossible to have a healthy baby amidst the complications.

Well, here is how you can have a healthy, high-risk pregnancy:

Pre-Conception Visit

Whether you are sure that you have an existing medical condition or not, it is necessary to schedule pre-conception visits to obstetricians and gynecologists.

They will ascertain how healthy you are before you try to conceive.

Do not forget that many women never had certain health problems until they became pregnant. This can be very disturbing. More attention will be placed on the condition in order to save the life of the mother and child.

Also, if you are at risk of birthing a child with gene mutation, your doctor will discuss the chances and how to prevent it, if possible.

Regularly Attend Prenatal Classes

During your prenatal class, your vitals such as your blood pressure, weight, temperature, as well as your urine are tested.

When you attend regularly, your health care providers will be aware of any slight change in your health condition.

Consume Healthy Foods

When you are pregnant, it is important to consume a lot of healthier food than before you became pregnant. Foods containing iron, folic acid, protein and calcium are good for fetal development.

You should also take your routine drugs as prescribed by the doctor. However, diabetic women who are pregnant will need the help of a dietician or a nutritionist.

You need them to draw up a food plan that will suit your condition.

Put a Check on your Weight

What Is High Risk Pregnancy
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It is very easy to gain weight in pregnancy. This is as a result of the cravings that come with the condition.

However, you do not need to eat for two, as most people think.

Ensure your baby weight does not go overboard. That way, it will be easier to shed off the weight after your baby has been delivered.

Adopt a Healthy Lifestyle

It is very important to stay away from alcohol, cigarettes, and hard drugs when you are pregnant. Whether you are having a high-risk pregnancy or not, consuming them can be harmful to the baby.

In conclusion, stay active and engage in simple exercises, except your doctor says otherwise.

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