High or Low Risk Pregnancy

Essential information that you may need to know.

High Risk Factors

Most women have normal, healthy pregnancies. Regular prenatal checks can detect problems early and prevent or minimise major complications developing. There are certain factors that constitute a risk to you and/or your baby. Some of these you can do something about and other are beyond your control and require close monitoring.

General risks that may affect your pregnancy:

  • Alcohol abuse
  • Smoking
  • You are very thin
  • You are very large
  • You are malnourished
  • You take recreational drugs
  • You have a medical condition requiring management and medical drugs

Your pregnancy is likely to be considered high-risk if, during a previous pregnancy, you have had any of the following complications:

  • Difficulties conceiving or assisted conception
  • Repeated miscarriage in first trimester
  • Miscarriage/premature birth in second trimester
  • Severe vomiting in early pregnancy
  • Stillbirth
  • Previous thrombosis
  • A previous baby with an abnormality
  • Two or more caesarean sections
  • Severe bleeding at any stage during pregnancy
  • Rhesus disease
  • Postnatal depression

Medical conditions where pregnancy may be closely monitored include:

  • Asthma
  • Liver problems
  • Thyroid disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Mental illness
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease (especially valve replacement)
  • Epilepsy
  • Kidney disease
  • Tuberculosis
  • Syphilis
  • Active herpes
  • Paraplegia
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Aids/HIV positive

You may need to alter your medication during pregnancy. Discuss this with your doctor before you conceive.

You may be referred for Genetic Counselling where you will be given advice on the probability of recurrent hereditary abnormalities or diseases.

Risks that may require extra care in delivery include:

  • Very small baby (weighing less than 2.5kg)
  • Very large baby (weighing more than 4kg)
  • Twins or multiple birth
  • Breech baby
  • A previous caesarean delivery
  • Previous problems in delivery
  • High blood pressure or pre-eclampsia
  • Diabetes
  • HIV infection
  • An active case of genital herpes


  • If your pregnancy is considered high risk, you may be advised to:
  • Alter your medication accordingly under the supervison of your doctor or health professiona
  • Have closer monitoring with more antenatal check-ups and ultrasound scans
  • Abstain from sexual intercourse, orgasm or the use of vibrators as these may trigger premature labour
  • Steer clear of stimulants including coffee, alcohol, cigarettes and recreational drugs
  • Do gentle exercise only. High contact sports are not advisable. Walking or supervised antenatal aqua classes or yoga are more preferable
  • Eat a well-balanced diet and drink 2-3 litres of water daily
  • Examine your work environment to ensure there are no hazards
  • Avoid strenuous work or take maternity leave earlier than expected
  • Avoid travelling distances
  • Keep stress levels low
  • Avoid carrying heavy objects

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