Dr Glenda McLaren
Obstetrician & Gynaecologist

High Risk Pregnancy

High Risk Pregnancy

Most pregnancies progress normally, however, there are several potential complications which can develop making the pregnancy high risk. Some women experience complications during their pregnancy including preterm labour, gestational diabetes and high blood pressure (hypertension). 

Dr McLaren is highly experienced in managing all possible obstetric complications and works closely with the dedicated Anaesthetic and Paediatric staff at the Mater Mothers’ Private Hospital in Brisbane.  

The Mater Mothers’ Hospital is one of Australia’s largest and most experienced maternity service providers – it is an excellent hospital to care for women with high-risk pregnancies. The neonatal nursery at the Mater Mother’s Hospital is one of the biggest neonatal nurseries in the country, with highly experienced staff dedicated to ensuring the best outcome for your baby.

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (or GDM) is a form of diabetes that only occurs during pregnancy. This is when the levels of glucose in the blood are higher than they should be during pregnancy. GDM is increasingly common, being diagnosed in approximately 12-14% of pregnant women. It is diagnosed through a Glucose Tolerance Test, usually performed at around 24-28 weeks of pregnancy. 

GDM often resolves after pregnancy. 

If you have GDM, then it is very important to monitor and maintain your blood sugars in the normal range during your pregnancy. Key to this is a healthy eating plan and regular physical activity – Dr McLaren’s team can assist you with this. 

Read more about GDM from the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

Read more about GDM on the Diabetes Australia Website.

Placenta praevia

Placenta Praevia is where the placenta grows low in the uterus, near to, or covering the cervix – potentially blocking the baby’s way out. Placenta praevia occurs in approximately 5% of pregnancies and should be checked if you experience any bleeding after 20 weeks. Diagnosis of Placenta Praevia is made with an ultrasound scan.

Depending on the severity, you may need a Caesarian Section to deliver your baby.

Read more about Placenta Praevia on the Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website. 

Placenta Accreta

Placenta Accreta occurs when the placenta grows deeply into the muscular uterus wall. It occurs in approximately 0.2% of pregnancies. It is diagnosed on ultrasound scan and is clinically suspected when the placenta implants on an old uterine scar.

Serial ultrasound scans will determine the best time to deliver and an early delivery by caesarean section with a hysterectomy is usually required.

Read more about Placenta Accreta on the Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website. 


Preeclampsia is a serious pregnancy complication marked by high blood pressure and protein in the urine. It can cause serious damage to your liver and kidneys and can be dangerous for both mother and baby. 

Around 10% of women experience high blood pressure especially in their first pregnancy and if there is a family history of high blood pressure or previous high blood pressure. 

Women with preeclampsia will need additional visits and blood tests. You may need to monitor your blood pressure at home or cease work earlier, may need treatment with tablets, hospital admission and earlier delivery.

Premature labour

Approximately 7% of labours start before 37 weeks.  

If you experience and crampy pain, bleeding, mucous or fluid loss after 20 weeks, contact the hospital and arrange to be reviewed.  

Early treatment of preterm labour can significantly improve perinatal outcomes. With improvements in neonatal care even extremely premature infants can survive from 23 weeks.

Fetal Growth restriction

Fetal Growth Restriction is where the baby is not growing as expected for its gestational age. 

Around 10% of babies are too small and there can be several reasons for this, related to the placenta, the mother or the baby itself.

You will be guided as to what additional tests you will need and any changes to your planned delivery type or timing, depending on your individual pregnancy. Sometimes a caesarean section is required to deliver your baby if there is a significant placental growth problem.

Multiple pregnancy

Multiple pregnancy is increasingly common with IVF and advancing maternal age. All the complications of pregnancy are more common in multiple pregnancies – including miscarriage, preterm labour, gestational diabetes mellitus and pregnancy induced hypertension.

You will need more frequent visits and the timing and mode of delivery will depend of the type of multiple pregnancy you have and whether you develop other pregnancy complications.

Read more about Multiple Pregnancy on the Pregnancy Birth & Baby website. 

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