Navigating High-Risk Pregnancies: A comprehensive guide to understanding, managing, and thriving during complex maternal journeys.

risk pregnancy

What is a high-risk pregnancy?

A high-risk pregnancy is one in which there is an increased likelihood of complications or problems for the mother, the baby, or both. These pregnancies may require special care, such as more frequent specialized medical monitoring than typical pregnancies or even the need to induce labor to ensure the best outcome for the health of both the mother and the baby.

What is the difference between a risky pregnancy and a high-risk pregnancy?

A risky pregnancy is one that has some potential for complications but is not necessarily considered high-risk. A high-risk pregnancy is more likely to have serious complications and may require more specialized care.

Types of High-Risk Pregnancy

There are various types of high-risk pregnancies, including:


  • Multiple pregnancies (twins, triplets, or more);
  • Pregnancies in women over 35;
  • Pregnancies with medical conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure;
  • Abnormalities in the uterus or cervix, as well as the size or position of the baby, can also contribute to a pregnancy being considered high-risk.

Is Teen Pregnancy Considered High-Risk?

Teen pregnancy can also be considered high-risk in some cases. Pregnancy can be more challenging for younger women, and teenagers are more likely to develop complications such as premature labor, low birth weight, and problems with the placenta.


Additionally, cultural factors often play a complicated role. Research suggests that teenage girls are less likely to receive early and regular prenatal care, which can further increase the risk of complications.


If you are a pregnant teenager or have one under your care, it is crucial to seek medical care as soon as possible and follow the health team’s recommendations to ensure the best outcome for both teenagers and their babies.

What Can Cause a High-Risk Pregnancy?

Several factors can contribute to a pregnancy being considered high-risk, including advanced maternal age, medical conditions in the mother, previous premature birth or miscarriage, multiple pregnancies, abnormalities in the uterus or cervix, baby size or fetal position, and even infections acquired during pregnancy.

Symptoms of High-Risk Pregnancy

The symptoms of a high-risk pregnancy can vary depending on the specific risk factor involved. Some common symptoms may include premature labor (before 37 weeks), vaginal bleeding, high blood pressure, swelling, and protein loss in the urine.

How to Diagnose a High-Risk Pregnancy?

There are several ways to identify whether your pregnancy is high-risk or not, including:


Medical history

Your doctor will ask about your history and any risk factors that may be present, such as maternal age, pre-existing medical conditions, or previous premature births or complications in previous pregnancies.


Routine exams

Your doctor may examine you to check for signs of complications, such as high blood pressure or swelling. They may also measure your abdomen to assess the size and position of the baby.


Prenatal tests

Your doctor may order a battery of tests to check for potential risks or complications during pregnancy. These may include blood tests, ultrasound examinations, and fetal monitoring.

Can Those with High-Risk Pregnancies Have a Normal Delivery?

It is possible for women with high-risk pregnancies to have a normal delivery, but it depends on the specific risk factors involved and the assessment by your doctor. In some cases, a planned cesarean section may be recommended to avoid further complications for the mother and ensure a healthy birth for the baby.

What Should a High-Risk Pregnant Woman Avoid?

As high-risk and high-risk pregnancies can vary greatly from woman to woman, depending on individual factors and history, it is crucial to follow your doctor’s recommendations. For example, you may need to avoid certain activities or habits, such as smoking or using certain medications, and establish a routine that can accommodate a specialized care plan.

Tips for Women with High-Risk and High-Risk Pregnancies

Follow your care plan

A high-risk pregnancy is no joke! It is crucial to follow the recommendations of your healthcare team correctly, as they are tailored specifically to your needs and clinical condition. This may include taking certain medications as prescribed, undergoing regular exams and consultations, adhering to certain dietary restrictions, or participating in special activities.


Talk to your healthcare team

Don’t leave appointments with unanswered questions. Make the most of your time to express your concerns, inquire about medications and possibilities, and discuss your birth plan and any symptoms you may have experienced. Your healthcare team is there to support you and can help you manage any risks or complications that may arise in advance to mitigate them.


Rest whenever possible

Taking care of yourself during pregnancy is crucial, and getting adequate rest can help you cope with stress and maintain good health. A good night’s sleep is your best ally, so take every opportunity to relax.


Adopt a healthy diet

A healthy diet during pregnancy is important for all pregnant women, but it is especially crucial for those with high-risk pregnancies. Discuss any special dietary needs (such as cutting down on sweets and fats) or other recommendations you may need to adopt with your doctor.


Resting, not dying

Engaging in physical activity can help manage stress and improve your physical and mental health during pregnancy. Talk to your doctor about which activities are safe for your condition and aim for a goal of at least 30 minutes of exercise per day.

Doula Aline Rossi

Aline Rossi is the founder and writer behind Villa Mater. Aline is a Brazilian mother expat in Portugal, feminist, certified birth and postpartum doula, having supported dozens of women in home and hospital births, as well as in the transition to motherhood after childbirth. Devoted admirer of Maria Montessori and Paulo Freire works on education and pedagogy.


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    Villa Mater is an information website based on scientific evidence about pregnancy, motherhood and education, with a strong commitment to the rights of women and children.