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High Risk Pregnancy Obstetrician in Melbourne


What is a High Risk Pregnancy?


Low risk pregnancies are common for most women, however there are always potential risks involved with pregnancy, labor and birth. A high risk pregnancy may mean an increased risk to the health or life of the mother or unborn baby. This type of pregnancy often requires specialised care from specially trained doctors, such as an obstetrician who specialises in maternal-fetal medicine. Of course, pregnancies are rarely totally low risk or high risk. All pregnancies carry some risks, and even very complicated pregnancies usually have aspects that are normal, and usually have normal outcomes.

As an experienced maternal feral medicine obstetrician, I am skilled at identifying and managing specific risks, while normalising the parts of the pregnancy that can be treated that way. Some pregnancies develop risk as they progress, while other women may experience complications before they even get pregnant.



Causes of a High Risk Pregnancy

As a specialist in Maternal-Fetal Medicine, I am one of a small group of people in Victoria with the advanced training and skills to manage the most high risk and complicated pregnancies.

Examples of high risk pregnancies include (but are no limited to):

  • Multiple pregnancy (twins and more)
  • Women who have experienced pregnancy loss or recurrent miscarriages

  • Maternal medical conditions which may impact on the pregnancy, or which may be made worse by the pregnancy (including thyroid disease, heart disease, kidney disease, autoimmune disease and other conditions) 
  • Pregnancies at risk of growth problems with the baby
  • Previous pregnancies complicated by conditions such as pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure), diabetes or blood incompatibility disorders (isoimmunisation)
  • Pregnancies at higher risk for preterm labor and birth
  • Fetal problems, abnormalities and birth defects
  • Quick labours in the previous pregnancies

  • Weight (over or under)

Why is expert, prenatal care necessary in high risk pregnancies?

Despite a high risk pregnancy, it’s possible to have a safe delivery and a healthy, happy baby - but with the right care. That’s where I come in: as an experienced private obstetrician and maternal fetal medicine specialist in Melbourne, I can provide careful and experienced antenatal care. I have the knowledge and expertise to be able to help identify any concerns during your pregnancy. I can help you understand your unique situation, ensuring any complications are managed calmly and with confidence, and with thorough explanations and your full involvement in all decisions.


Can a high risk pregnancy be evident from the beginning of pregnancy?

In some circumstances, a high risk pregnancy can be identified before a woman is pregnant. Bear in mind that an otherwise healthy woman can also become at high risk during the course of her pregnancy. By promoting a healthy pregnancy, you can limit any complications before and during your antenatal journey.

How to encourage a healthy pregnancy

There are a number of actions you can undertake to limit pregnancy complications and increase your baby’s health and that of your own. Some of these may include:

  • Getting to - and maintaining - a healthy weight before trying for a baby

  • Finding a private obstetrician who specialises in moderate and high risk pregnancies

  • Eating a diet that includes more protein-rich foods, green leafy vegetables and fresh fruits

  • Avoiding tobacco and recreational drugs, as well as limiting alcohol intake and avoiding it completely once you are pregnant.

  • Being physically active as much as possible during your pregnancy

It is important that you seek regular prenatal care to monitor your health and your baby’s health.


Symptoms of a High Risk Pregnancy During Pregnancy

There are a variety of risk factors that could come up during pregnancy that weren’t evident before the onset of pregnancy. Two of the most common pregnancy-related problems include:

  • Gestational diabetes, which is a type of diabetes that only develops during pregnancy. After delivery, it usually resolves itself, however women with gestational diabetes may be at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Preeclampsia is a syndrome with symptoms of high blood pressure, swelling and urinary protein. It can be dangerous for the for both mother and baby if left untreated. With proper management, it is still possible to deliver a healthy baby with preeclampsia. 

Management of a High Risk Pregnancy

Many women embarking on a pregnancy of higher risk have a number of anxieties and fears for their own or their baby’s health, in addition to all the normal concerns that pregnant women have.  I believe that it is important that these women are given ample opportunity in a supportive environment to explore their concerns, and have not only their physical but also their emotional needs met.  In my practice I endeavour to provide the time and interpersonal trusting relationship necessary to help overcome these concerns.


Of course pregnancies are not simply “low risk” or “high risk”.  Even within the most high risk of pregnancies, there are elements that are normal.  I believe that whilst it is of course important that the specific risk elements are identified and managed, it is also important to normalise the pregnancy as much as possible, so that women can not only have the highest chance of a successful outcome to their pregnancy, but that they also can enjoy and appreciate their pregnancy experience.


For women with medical disorders pre-dating their pregnancy, or who have had a previous complicated pregnancy, planning for a future pregnancy is very important.  A pre-pregnancy, or pregnancy planning visit is invaluable.  Pre-pregnancy planning visits can have a number of advantages:

  • Optimising your health prior to the onset of pregnancy can help to minimise the potential impact of any underlying conditions during pregnancy
  • Before the onset of pregnancy, consider reviewing the safety and appropriateness of medication for use during pregnancy
  • Discuss realistic risks and outcomes for an upcoming pregnancy with your GP or obstetrician to determine your potential risk
  • Consider any possible treatments that may need to commence in early pregnancy
  • Consider your family history and explore whether there are any genetic implications that need to be considered before pregnancy
  • Discuss with your doctor your general health, lifestyle, dietary restrictions and exercise considerations for pregnancy
  • Meet your doctor, and decide whether you are comfortable with them managing your pregnancy
  • Speak to your doctor to address any of your fears, questions and concerns.

Where to find Dr Stephen Cole

For your convenience, I consult and have admitting privileges at multiple hospitals around Melbourne. I take private appointments at Epworth Freemasons Private Hospital and Frances Perry House Private Hospital