High-risk pregnancy: the complete guide

high-risk pregnancy appointments timeline

What medical complications during pregnancy define the pregnancy as a high-risk pregnancy and are there any special limitations that are important to know? Here’s everything you need to know

A high-risk pregnancy is a general term that refers to a situation where there is an increased risk to the health of the mother or the fetus, or both, which may negatively affect the results of the pregnancy or the health of the mother and the baby.

Women who are at increased risk of negative pregnancy outcomes, need closer monitoring during pregnancy, and sometimes also after birth, to reduce the risk of complications as much as possible. In some cases, the close follow-up will begin even before the pregnancy. 

Where is the pregnancy at risk monitored?

Monitoring of at-risk pregnancies is carried out in designated clinics in the community or hospitals, or with gynecologists who have specialized in monitoring at-risk pregnancies (maternal and fetal medicine). 

​How often should you go to a doctor for follow-up when a high-risk pregnancy?

The frequency of follow-up and treatment of at-risk pregnancies is determined individually according to the specific risk factors of the mother or the fetus.

The follow-up may include more frequent meetings with the doctor specializing in at-risk pregnancies, consultations with specialist doctors in various fields, more frequent and focused ultrasound follow-ups depending on the medical condition of the fetus, or frequent fetal monitoring. ​

Medical complications during High-risk pregnancy: symptoms

The variety of situations that can define pregnancy as a risk is almost endless, but the most common situations are:

  • • Chronic diseases such as high blood pressurediabetes, heart disease, thyroid dysfunction, epilepsy, lupus, kidney disease, liver disease, lung disease, and more.
  • Maternal conditions that may affect the results of the pregnancy, such as hypercoagulability, congenital uterine defects, fibroid uterus, extreme underweight or overweight, drug or alcohol addiction, exposure to dangerous substances, infections, and more.​​
  • Obstetrical history that raises the risk of the current pregnancy, such as three or more cesarean sections, other surgery in the uterus (for example, myomectomy ) or in the cervix (conization), a previous pregnancy with a complication such as a newborn small for gestational age or fetal death in the uterus, premature birth in a previous pregnancy, repeated miscarriages and more. ​
  • Medical conditions of the mother related to pregnancy, such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, shortening of the cervix, placental abruption, or suspected placenta accreta.
  • Conditions related to the fetus, such as multiple pregnancies, fetal malformations, fetal growth disorders in the womb, infections, and more. ​

Does the mother’s age also define a pregnancy at risk?

The age of the mother does define women as pregnant at risk. 

According to the Ministry of Health, pregnancy under the age of 17 or over the age of 40 is defined as a high-risk pregnancy.

Are there special rights for high-risk pregnant women?

In certain situations, depending on the level of risk of pregnancy, the doctor may decide to recommend “keeping the pregnancy”.

The recommendation to keep the pregnancy is received by a specialist gynecologist, sometimes following the recommendation of a specialist doctor from another field, such as an occupational doctor. The National Insurance has an independent professional committee that discusses the recommendations for maintaining pregnancy and reserves the right not to approve the recommendation.

​Are there any high-risk pregnancy work restrictions?

Usually, there are no special restrictions, but depending on the reason for keeping the pregnancy, the attending physician may restrict you from performing certain actions. For example, in situations of increased risk of premature birth or situations of placenta previa, it will sometimes be recommended to avoid strenuous physical activity or sexual intercourse.

In principle, there is no prohibition against flying during pregnancy, but there are medical conditions in which it would be recommended to avoid flying, or to limit flying to a certain period during pregnancy. You should consult the attending physician.

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