A high-risk pregnancy is when you have a condition that can cause health problems for you or your baby.
If you have a high-risk pregnancy, you’ll need special prenatal care to keep you and your baby as healthy as possible.
There are a number of causes of high-risk pregnancy:
- Age: There is a higher risk of pregnancy complications if you are 35 or older
- Lifestyle: Smoking, drinking alcohol and using illegal drugs
- Past pregnancy issues: Preterm birth, previous miscarriage and C-section
- Known fetal abnormality: Heart defects (e.g., tetralogy of Fallot), gastrointestinal abnormalities (e.g., gastroschisis), kidney abnormalities, brain and spine abnormalities, genetic conditions
- Health conditions: Diabetes, high blood pressure, epilepsy, lupus
- Conditions in pregnancy: Placenta previa, gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, preterm labor
- Multiples pregnancy: If you are carrying multiples (e.g., twins, triplets or more)
High-risk pregnancy: what you should know
If you have an underlying condition, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, talk to your physician about risks and preparation for pregnancy before you get pregnant. Your doctor can do the following to recommend any necessary changes to improve your chances of a successful pregnancy:
- Evaluate your health
- Review medications
- Collaborate with your other physicians
- Refer you for consultations with specialists, if needed
- If you’ve had complications in past pregnancies, it doesn’t mean you’ll have them if you get pregnant again; however, your doctor will monitor you more closely in case complications do arise.
How can I get help for high-risk pregnancy?
If you are pregnant (or plan to become pregnant) and you have any of the following conditions — or any other conditions that you feel puts you at risk — your OB-GYN or maternal-fetal medicine specialist at Rush will work with you to determine a plan of care to keep you and your baby as healthy as possible:
- Autoimmune diseases (such as lupus)
- Gestational diabetes
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- History of miscarriages
- Preterm labor
- Multiple gestation (e.g., twins, triplets or more)
- Prior history of C-section
Known or suspected fetal abnormalities, such as the following:
- macrosomia (a baby that is too large)
- fetal growth restriction (a baby that is too small)
- heart abnormalities (e.g., tetralogy of Fallot)
- gastrointestinal abnormalities (e.g., gastroschisis)
- Heart disease
- Kidney disease
- Seizure disorders
Care for high-risk pregnancy at Rush
- Prenatal testing: You might need additional prenatal tests and examinations to monitor your and your baby’s health throughout your pregnancy.
- Planning: High-risk obstetricians at Rush will help you prepare for a safe labor and delivery. They can also determine a plan for immediate medical care for your baby after delivery.
- Genetic counseling and testing: During your pregnancy, you can receive specialized counseling and, as appropriate, have your baby screened for genetic problems that could make your pregnancy high-risk.
Why choose Rush for high-risk pregnancy care
- Many OB-GYNs at Rush specialize in caring for women with high-risk pregnancies.
- The Rush Fetal and Neonatal Medicine Center offers prenatal testing and care for high-risk pregnancy. The center’s specialized team provides support, evaluation and treatment during your pregnancy and after your child is born.
- If you have a high-risk pregnancy, your baby might need additional monitoring and care at birth. The Renée Schine Crown Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Rush is a level III NICU, providing the highest level of care available to at-risk babies.
- The Rush Family Birth Center has dedicated patient rooms to care for expectant mothers who need hospital care to manage complex conditions.
- NICU respiratory therapists at Rush attend high-risk deliveries when needed to help care for babies who have breathing problems after they are born.