Expert Advice

High-Risk Pregnancy – Decisions and Options

You just heard that your pregnancy is high risk. Higher risk births can sound scary at first, but don’t worry. We have ample tools to ensure safety… and lots of different ways to accomplish a healthy, happy outcome for you and baby. It’s time to consider the decisions and options for high-risk birth, and develop your birth plan to account for them.

Many individual reasons can make your pregnancy high risk. Common factors include high blood pressure, chronic or gestational diabetes (that cannot be controlled by diet), HIV+, significant extra weight, twins+, teen pregnancy, previous c-section(s), and substance addictions.[1]. Interestingly, there are some factors that one care provider thinks makes you high risk, and other care providers would say “No way, you aren’t high risk.” It can be confusing.

Each of these factors carries its own set of potential complications for either you or baby, or both. The great news is that there is a ton you can do to help manage your risk during pregnancy and birth.By taking an active role in your own health and working with empowering birth professionals, you and your baby will very most likely be healthy as could be at the end of the day.




Get more involved (if you aren’t already) – eat healthy foods, reduce your intake of sugar, get 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day, keep all your medical appointments, and take prescribed medications[2]. By doing just this, you may even be able to shift yourself back down to a lower risk category. Stay flexible, informed, keep a positive outlook, and find a care provider you trust[3]. If anything is sure about pregnancy and birth, it is that the process is dynamic and unpredicatable. Risk assessment can vary from state to state, office to office, and even person to person within the same office. The values, training and assumptions within your local birthing culture play a big role in determining what factors fall in the “high risk” bucket, and what options are available to you with a high risk pregnancy.

If traditional medical establishments have said you’re high risk, you may be surprised to find other care providers who think home birth or a freestanding birth center could still be good options for you. For some women with high-risk pregnancies, being in the hospital is the most peaceful choice. Others feel more comfortable dealing with risk factors in the birth center or at home. If you aren’t sure how you feel, or haven’t been told you still have options, ask more professionals! Don’t be afraid to keep asking questions until you feel confident you’ve come to the best conclusions to meet your own values.

Planning where you give birth empowers you to ask other important questions, many of which influence your birth plan. During prenatal visits with your care provider, discuss your birth preferences and how those fit with your risk level.

With your care provider’s help you can write the birth plan that fits your risk and your options. One copy of your birth plan should be in your file and a second copy should go with you in your hospital bag, if you give birth there.




To learn more about options for your pregnancy, 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 WallsHigh-Risk Pregnancy – Decisions and Options

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