High-Risk Pregnancies

High-Risk Pregnancies

When pregnancies get complicated, the answer is simple: Swedish.

Our First Hill and Issaquah campuses are home to the Maternal and Fetal Specialty Center, the largest perinatal and neonatal program in Washington. It’s where moms and babies who face extra hurdles can get the special care they need before, during, and after birth.

What makes for a high-risk pregnancy? Here are some factors:

  • You’re over 35
  • You or your partner have a family history of genetic concerns
  • You’ve had complications during an earlier pregnancy, or complications develop during your current pregnancy
  • You have a medical condition that can affect pregnancy, such as diabetes or obesity
  • You’re expecting multiples

What is a High-Risk Pregnancy?

Dr. Dorcas McLennan, Medical Director of the Family Childbirth Center at Swedish Ballard, and Judy Kimelman, Seattle OB/GYN, discuss high-risk pregnancies including examples of high-risk pregnancies, and advice on working with your provider to determine if your pregnancy is high-risk. 

Read the full video text/transcript

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In this Section:

Maternal and Fetal Specialty Center

Understanding Your High-Risk Pregnancy

Prenatal Testing

Genetic Counseling


Full video text/transcript for "What is a High-Risk Pregnancy?" video

To try to figure out if you're high-risk or low-risk is sometimes quiet difficult. The reality is that there's always a gradation and many women will think that they're high-risk simply because they're over 35 for example. Age puts you at more risk. We have a lot of women who are in their late 30's and early 40's that have absolutely normal pregnancies but you are at more risk of having more complications if you are at what they call advanced maternal age, so over the age of 35.

Coming in and assuming that you're too high-risk is probably not a great starting point. Have a conversation with the provider that you've chosen and they'll help you sort out if you really are too high-risk for their particular clinic.

Many women who are high-risk know that they are. High blood pressure is a common one. Women that have had prior c-sections are more high-risk. Diabetes can also be a complicating factor. If you have underlying diabetes it can require a lot more monitoring throughout the pregnancy and sometimes even early delivery. Obesity can put you at more risk; more risk for needing a c-section or other high-risk complications. They might have had an organ transplant, or they have heart disease that's very significant, or they have triplets. Most pregnancies are absolutely normal and have no complications at all, but it's nice to know you're in an environment where you can be taken care of if anything happens.

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