High-Risk Pregnancy

Having a high-risk pregnancy means that a woman has a greater chance of complications because of conditions in her pregnancy, her own medical status, or external factors.

Many times, complications are unexpected and may occur without warning. Other times, there are certain risk factors that make problems more likely.

What Can Cause a High-Risk Pregnancy?

Planning a pregnancy? An important part of planning is finding out if you have any risks. Pregnancy risk factors include:

  • Being younger than 18 or older than 35
  • Being underweight or overweight
  • Having a low red blood cell count (anemia)
  • Having given birth more than 4 times
  • Having a previous preterm birth (birth before 37 weeks gestation)
  • Having given birth to a very large or very small baby
  • Having a previous pregnancy loss
  • Having a family history of genetic disease or a previous baby with a birth defect
  • Substance use (cigarettes, alcohol, or drugs)
  • Having a medical condition like diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease
  • Taking infertility medications or treatments
  • Having twins or triplets

Other factors also can pose a risk to your developing baby. These include high temperatures, radiation exposure, and high altitudes.

High-Risk Pregnancy Care at Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Our Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, also known as High-Risk Obstetrics, provides expert, multidisciplinary care for women and newborns who have complications identified prior to or during pregnancy. Our Center for Fetal Medicine and Prenatal Genetics provides comprehensive assessment and treatment of fetal disease. Women without pregnancy complications also are welcome for services, including genetic counseling. High-risk newborns are cared for by the specialty staff at our on-site Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and Children’s Hospital Boston – connected by a pedestrian bridge to Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Our Maternal-Fetal Medicine Services

  • Prenatal care and diagnosis
  • Comprehensive assessment and treatment of fetal disease
  • Co-management with community-based obstetricians
  • High-risk ambulatory and inpatient consultation
  • Obstetrical ultrasound
  • Genetic counseling
  • Fetal surveillance including biophysical non-stress testing
  • Social services, support groups, and nutrition counseling
  • Transfer Program - experts at Brigham and Women's Hospital provide specialized high-risk obstetrical care

Obstetrics and Gynecology Care at Brigham and Women’s Hospital

The faculty members and researchers at the BWH Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology are dedicated to doing everything possible to provide women and their families with the most advanced care available anywhere.

As a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School, we are world-renowned for our expertise in gynecology and onstetrics, and have been a trusted name in women’s health for more than 180 years. Our rich history includes landmark research that has helped guide the care provided to women around the world. Learn more about our research.

Our commitment to patient- and family-focused care has shaped our Center for Women and Newborns at the Mary Horrigan Connors Center for Women’s Health – world-renowned for the quality of our obstetrical and neonatal care and dedicated to the most comprehensive state-of-the-art obstetrical services under one roof. Brigham and Women’s Hospital is the birthing center most women in Massachusetts choose and U.S. News & World Report has repeatedly named Brigham and Women’s Hospital among the top hospitals in the nation in Gynecology.

Patient- and Family-focused Care
BWH has long been committed to not only the care of our patients but also the many other needs that they and their families have. This philosophy of patient- and family-focused care – involving systems and services that emphasize healing in a comfortable, relaxed environment – is a guiding force behind the care we provide. 

Quality of Patient Care
BWH is committed to providing all of our patients with the safest, highest-quality, care possible and follow established protocols that have been shown to improve patient outcomes. Our Inpatient Satisfaction Survey, sent to patients’ to assess their total care experience, helps us to monitor what we are doing well and where we could improve. We pride ourselves in the Quality of Patient Care we provide and how we compare with other hospitals.

Brigham and Women’s High-Risk Obstetrics Team

The High-Risk Obstetrics team is committed to patients and their families. Each patient's diagnosis and treatment plan will be designed and tailored to their needs.  Our team of highly skilled doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals work together to deliver the highest quality care to every patient. View our High-Risk Obstetrics Care Team.

Contact Us

If you believe you should have an evaluation and would like to schedule an appointment with one of our high-risk pregnancy experts, call 1-800-294-9999 to speak to one of our knowledgeable coordinators, who can help to connect you to the doctor that best meets your needs, or fill out an online appointment request form.

In this video members of the NICU team at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) describe what to expect during your baby’s stay. The experience of having a baby that requires special medical care is a time of uncertainty and stress for the baby’s family. Even when you are in the best place with the best doctors, nurses, and other staff, we understand that a stay in the newborn intensive care unit (NICU) can be a very challenging time and we want to help you, as well as your baby, cope with the situation. We hope that this information will reassure you that your baby is getting the best care possible at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Find a DoctorFind an expert BWH OB/GYN for innovative gynecological treatment and compassionate care.

Find an expert BWH OB/GYN for innovative gynecological treatment and compassionate care.

Quality and SafetyLearn how quality and patient safety are at the core of Brigham and Women's mission and vision.

Learn how quality and patient safety are at the core of Brigham and Women's mission and vision.

Top HospitalLearn more about how U.S. News & World Report ranks Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Learn more about how U.S. News & World Report ranks Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

LEARN MORE ABOUT BRIGHAM AND WOMEN’S HOSPITAL


For over a century, a leader in patient care, medical education and research, with expertise in virtually every specialty of medicine and surgery.

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