Expert Advice

Can Your Pregnancy Risk Level Change?

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“Risk level” sounds like something connected to bungy jumping, not baby-building. So, what is a risk level, and can your pregnancy risk level change from one month to the next? If it does, you may need to change your birth plan.

We talk about high risk pregnancies in another post. They compose only 6%-8% of US pregnancies[1]. The designation “high risk” is assigned when mother’s or baby’s health could be in danger and needs special attention.

But if high risk pregnancies are only 8% of women, that means that more than 90% are low risk. Birth is a natural and well-designed process that women do extremely well. Normal birth plans and preferences are based on low risk pregnancies.


  • High blood pressure
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Autoimmune disease like lupus, multiple sclerosis
  • Thyroid disease
  • Using fertility drugs
  • Obesity
  • Addiction to alcohol and/or cigarettes

If you do not have these risk factors, your low risk pregnancy can shift to high risk[3] by

  • Carrying multiple fetuses
  • Developing preeclampsia and eclampsia
  • Developing gestational diabetes

Even with the healthiest exercise-and-organic-everything freaks things change during pregnancy. Sometimes they aren’t because of mom’s actions, like suddenly discovering you’re carrying twins.



But it does require special attention. Every case is individual. The way your high risk factors are managed depends a lot on your maternity care provider and how much you two agree on your birth preferences.

Midwives and some doctors deal with certain risks differently than care practitioners in hospitals with strict routines and regulations. If you have questions about your care because of the new risk, get a second opinion. That allows you to compare and decide which treatment method you feel most comfortable with.

If you start pregnancy as low risk but things change and put you into high risk, you have new decisions to make. Perhaps you have new conditions to plan for after birth. Even with the potential for high-risk complications, your birth plan can accommodate your unique situation, especially if you’ve discussed it with your care provider.

If you rewrite your birth plan, your most recent version should be in your provider’s file. Keep a second copy in your hospital bag so it goes with you to the hospital if your give birth there.



To learn more about pregnancy risk level, download our free Birth Plan eBook now. After three years of research, collaboration with more than 100 childbirth experts and resource centers from Healthy Child Healthy World to the American Association of Neonatal Nurses, the Best Ever Baby Birth Plan Guide is available for a free download.

This new resource for pregnant families is a compilation of top tips and advice from more than 20 nationally-recognized experts in the field including renowned pediatrician, Dr. Alan Greene and GraceFull Birthing founder, midwife Elizabeth Bachner.  These trusted experts offer thoughtful guidance for whatever type of birthing experience parents want, in whichever setting they choose.


Published: August 19, 2015 | Reviewed by: Kim Walls, Natural Products Expert, Elizabeth Bachner, LM, CPM, L.Ac., Midwife | Last reviewed: August, 2015

Kim WallsCan Your Pregnancy Risk Level Change?

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