The Beginners Guide to High-Risk Pregnancies
When a woman is pregnant and expecting, this is the most exciting time of her life!
Her life will be changing and she will be bringing a child into the world.
Most women expect their pregnancy to go smooth and easy.
Most women expect to deal with the common pregnancy problems like weight gain, cravings and problem sleeping.
So when something happens to the pregnancy or baby, this is a shock to any mom and everyone around her.
No one prepares you when you get the news of having a high-risk pregnancy and you might be hospitalized.
No one talks about the sense of loss of a “regular” pregnancy- the baby movements, the big belly.
So this guide is meant to provide as many resources to women going through high-risk pregnancies and how to manage it physically and emotionally.
No one really talks about what it is like having a high-risk pregnancy and the stress it comes with.
My blog is meant to be a guide for pregnant mothers to understand their conditions and how they can manage it.
Hopefully, this can prepare you (even though you are never fully prepared) to take on this new journey and have the tools to navigate this unique situation.
Always have hope and never give up!
I have been a NICU nurse for many yrs now and I love my job.
When I found out I was pregnant with my 1st child, I was soo excited!!
I never thought I would have a complicated pregnancy and my baby will be born in the NICU I work at.
My first pregnancy is what inspired me to start this blog.
I was healthy, young, low risk and everything was going well in my pregnancy.
I was such a low risk to have any complications…no one expected anything to happen.
At the 28 wks ultrasound, they notice my son wasn’t growing and I had placenta problems.
Basically the placenta wasn’t doing its job properly, therefore my son was struggling inside to grow.
At that moment I became a high-risk pregnancy, was hospitalized and was told I will be having a premature baby.
I would never forget that day.. the day that I realized I wouldn’t have the “normal” pregnancy experience.
My whole world was rocked and I cried almost every day.
When my son was born, it was scary!
But what helped me get through the NICU experience is my knowledge and knowing what to expect.
I knew the expected course and what my son will be going through.
I learned so much being a NICU parent and having a high-risk pregnancy.
So I wanted to shed some light and provide a flashlight to other parents, so they can better navigate the NICU world.
What is a High-Risk Pregnancy?
- A high risk pregnancy is when
- 1. The mother has a condition before pregnancy that increases her chance of having health problems
- 2. A complication develops during pregnancy
- In both of these above situations, the pregnant mother has a higher chance of developing health problems that can cause her to have a premature baby.
- Therefore, a woman with a high-risk pregnancy needs to be closely monitored, to make sure mom and baby are safe and healthy. The Mayo clinic wrote a great article on high-risk pregnancy and the risk factors.
- I’ll be going into more detail on the risk factors that can cause a premature baby in a future blog post, so stay tuned!!
Common Questions/FAQ About High-Risk Pregnancies
What are the common reasons for High Risk Pregnancies?
There are many reasons that can cause a high-risk pregnancy. Some reasons we can control like nutrition, drug use and weight. Other reasons occur during the pregnancy and we still don’t know why some mothers get these complications compared to others. This includes preeclampsia ( high blood pressure), placenta problems, cervix problems and your water breaking early (PPROM). I talk and explain more in detail about high-risk pregnancy risk factors in this blog post: Causes of Premature Birth and Why it Happens.
I plan to do more blog posts on the common complications of pregnancy and the expected course of treatments, so stay tuned!!
I’m high risk. Now, what is the plan?
Once you have a high-risk pregnancy, you are usually followed in a special clinic called the high-risk clinic. In Canada, every high-risk pregnancy mom has an OBGYN specialized in high-risk pregnancies. Otherwise, if you are low risk, you get a maternity doctor. The doctor will closely monitor you and your baby. You will be sent for many ultrasounds and blood tests to make sure your condition, that caused you to become high risk, is controlled. Usually, women with high-risk pregnancies will deliver at a hospital with a Level 3 NICU, in case the baby is born very early.
Once I am high-risk in one pregnancy, will my other pregnancies be high risk and will I have another preemie?
Once you are high risk in one pregnancy, you will continue to be considered high risk in all of your other pregnancies too. This is because the condition that made you high risk in the first pregnancy can return, so you need to be closely monitored. The good thing is that there are many treatments available that can be started in the 1st trimester to decrease the chance of the complication returning. Therefore, if you are monitored closely and proper treatment is started early, hopefully, you can have a full-term baby…. but this is not always guaranteed.
To provide hope, I went full term with my second pregnancy. I was monitored very closely and received proper treatments early on. My first son was born at 31 5/7 wks. And my second son was born at 39 wks. I wanted to share this because I want other moms to not give up hope in having a full-term baby. It can happen for you as well!
What is Preeclampsia and how to manage it.
Preeclampsia is when a mom develops very high blood pressure that causes organ damage. This condition only happens in pregnancy. It usually happens in the 2nd or 3rd trimester. If you are less than 37 wks, you will be given medications to control your blood pressure, so the baby can stay inside of you longer and grow. If your blood pressure and symptoms are not improving, then early delivery has to be considered to protect your life and your baby’s life. Check out Preeclampsia stories for more information on this condition and how to prevent it.
What is Placental insufficiency? Will I get it in every pregnancy?
Placenta insufficiency is when the placenta is not providing enough oxygen and nutrient to the baby. Therefore, the baby stops growing. This is called IUGR (Intrauterine growth restriction). This means the baby is smaller than it should be and it’s not growing at a regular rate. These babies are usually always born early and they have to grow outside the womb. This is a complication I had with my son. He was stressed and not growing inside of me, so he had to be delivered early at 31 5/7 wks. Every pregnancy has a different placenta, so we don’t know how often this condition can return. Usually, if treatment is started early and the mom is monitored, this complication can be controlled.
How to deal with the feeling of loss of a “regular” pregnancy.
This is so real and I feel like nobody talks about this. Having a high-risk pregnancy leads you to be constantly monitored and send for many tests. This leads to increased stress and not being able to enjoy the pregnancy. Also, once you have a premature baby, there is a sense of loss of a “regular” pregnancy as the mom didn’t get to enjoy the big belly, the strong kicks and other common late trimester pregnancy moments. Most NICU moms deal with this sense of loss, but they don’t have the resources to heal. In my blog, I plan to provide tips and advice to help these moms going through this situation.
My water broke early in my pregnancy and I’ll be having a premature baby. Why did this happen?
Rupturing of membranes or water breaking is one of the most common reasons a mom has a premature baby. The water can break due to an infection, multiple babies, increased amniotic fluid or any trauma. If there are no risk factors present and the mom is healthy, then the cause is hard to identify. To this day, we don’t really know why this happens to some moms.
The Last Thing You Need to Know about High-Risk Pregnancies
You are not alone and you will get through it!!!
Having a high-risk pregnancy doesn’t guarantee that you will have a premature baby, but the chances are higher
Try not to stress too much of your situation as this doesn’t help.
Instead, take it one day at a time and never give up hope.
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