How to Cope with a High Risk Pregnancy

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Image via Devan McGuinness

When I was pregnant with my first child years ago, I had a vision for how I had expected it all to go. I knew that I was not going to spend time complaining like I had heard other women do, I knew how I was going to give birth, trust my body, and hopefully have an easy-going pregnancy with an easy-going labor. 

Things didn't go the way that I had planned and haven't gone that way since.

This pregnancy, things have gotten a little more high risk for me and my desire to have a more low-key (as low-key as I can get) pregnancy seems even further away.

I am used to having pregnancies classified as “high risk”. It all stems from my multiple miscarriages and a blood clotting disorder called Factor V Leiden. I've managed pregnancies with growth concerns, kidney issues, and daily injections that I take to reduce the risks of developing a clot that could be harmful to myself and/or my growing baby.

This pregnancy, things have gotten a little more high risk for me and my desire to have a more low-key (as low-key as I can get) pregnancy seems even further away. I've still got all the previous things stacked against me that make my pregnancy high risk, the Factor V Leiden and miscarriage history, but this time we've got more going on as well.

At our anatomy scan, we learned that we were having a boy, but at the same time there was an issue spotted with an umbilical cord that could cause issues –  or things could be fine. There was also a potential issue with his kidney that needed to be checked out further. Because of that, I am considered to have an even more high risk pregnancy that requires a lot more testing and monitoring. So far, we've had a second Level II ultrasound, a meeting with a genetics counselor, and have a fetal echocardiogram scheduled at the end of this month. On top of that, I have to be monitored carefully to make sure he's growing on a good pattern.

So, this stress-free pregnancy I wanted to have has gone out the window again and in more ways than I had hoped. I am thankful and grateful that he's healthy and things so far are progressing well, but the high risk label brings some extra emotions and stress along with it.

If you've been diagnosed as having a high risk pregnancy, here are some ways to cope:

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Talk to your doctor: Finding a doctor who you connect with, feel safe with, and you can share your feelings with is a key step in managing a high risk pregnancy. My doctor always takes extra time with me, never makes me feel rushed, and I really trust him. If you've got a doctor who does the same for you, you'll find the process a lot easier.

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Image via Flickr/nanny snowflake

Get a support team: My husband is someone I bounce my fears and anxieties off of, and I find additional support in my mother and siblings. Having their support and listening ears means feeling comfort in ways of coping because I don't feel judged for my fears and always feel like they have my best interest at heart, and our baby's as well. 

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Find others who are in a similar spot: When I was told what was going on, I immediately wanted to find others who have been through it or are going through it so I could connect. That connection takes away the fears that what you're going through is isolating and there is solidarity in knowing others who are dealing with the same fears and worries, as well as others who can talk you through what to watch for or questions you should be asking. 

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Don't Google: It was the first place I wanted to go and I'll admit that I did. What you find, though, is a lot of the worst scenario cases and you may end up with more fears and worries than you had when you started. If you do give in and Google, be sure you write down all your questions for the next time you head to your doctor. 

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Image via Flickr/Fotos GOVBA

Expect more appointments: I know it sounds totally obvious, but those appointments are something you need to be aware of beforehand. Learning how to make your schedule work and cope with all the stresses that can come with it, plus embracing the fact that those appointments are inevitable can help a lot. Once I gave in to the idea that life is going to be a little more crazy, for just a little while, I felt a lot of that stress evaporate.

Do you have a high risk pregnancy? What are some tips that you can share on how to cope?

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What do you think?

How to Cope with a High Risk Pregnancy

Devan McGuinness is the founder of the online resource Unspoken Grief, which is dedicated to breaking the silence of perinatal grief for those directly and indirectly affected by miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death. Using her own experience of surviving 12 miscarriages, Devan has been actively supporting and encouraging others who are wading through the challenges associated with perinatal and neonatal loss. Winner of the 2012 Bloganthropy Award and named one of Babble's “25 bloggers wh ... More

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18 comments

  1. Amber says:

    I’m a high risk pregnancy with all three of my pregnancy. I tend to go into Pre-term delivery the doctors don’t know why why but my body just doesn’t like being pregnant. My first child was born at 24 weeks because my water broke at 23 weeks. When I got pregnant with my second my doctor wanted to get test done to figure out What could have caused my water to brake. I was 15 weeks When they say my cervix was shortening. I was put on bedrest till I delivered at 38 weeks.The whole time I was pregnant I would also have issues with laboring. I’m currently pregnant with my third and this will be our last (hubby and me really wanted to try for girl. Didn’t work though Lol) my cervix is holding strong but any time I get up and walk around for a hour or more I start to go into labor. So I’m on bedrest until this baby is born.

  2. angela says:

    I have had 3 miscarriages what can i do to help prevent this from happening again

  3. Laurie says:

    I am scheduled to be induced or have a c-section this Thursday! I will be 39 weeks and I am so ready to meet my little boy! When I was in my early 20’s I had 2 surgeries for endometriosis and fibroids. I went through weekly injections that made me lactate and my hair fall out. I was told when I was 26, that I would never be able to have Children. It did not seem like much of an issue at the time(I was single) & busy working on my career. I was on heavy birth control to control my bleeding & extreme cramps(every month), until I decided that I wanted to TTC last year.
    When I met my Husband at 32, I told him that I might not be able to have his kids, and he asked me “Have you tried to get pregnant? Are you going to let other people tell you that it will never happen, without at least trying?” And that has been how we have approached my pregnancy & all of the subsequent issues that I have faced.
    At 13 weeks, I was already seeing the perinatologist, genetic counselor & my OB weekly(more pics of my boy was awesome)! But after a late night trip to the ER, we found out that I had a large fibroid that was crowding the baby in my uterus. We prayed, waited and went through more tests. The fibroid shrank eventually and almost magically went away, and then I started fainting.
    I work in Sp. Ed. preschool, not the place to be passing out! After tons more tests we found out that I had an early on-set of GD, that had already started to effect my heart. On another late night trip to the ER, my Husband and BFF, just tried to keep me laughing; while the nurses nervously talked around me.
    Keeping my sense of humor has kept me sane during these crazy last nine months! Finding the funny moments while lying down for 1 hour, 2 times a week for NST’s(since 33 weeks) has kept me from losing my mind & helped keep me from constantly worrying! I inject myself with insulin 3 times a day now, take my heart meds twice a day; meanwhile checking my blood and blood pressure through out the whole day. I have hashimoto’s Hypothyroid syndrome & asthma already, so adding more meds was not a big deal, but using needles for insulin sucks! So, we make jokes about that it’s time for me to go “shoot up”, etc. I have gained 70lbs and there are times that I want to just “tap out” or say “I can’t do this anymore.” But, then I pray & laugh, & remind myself that I was told that I would never get even this far. And here I am.
    Last week we ended up in the ER yet again, because I am borderline for pre-eclampsia and developing a possible heart murmur. I asked my Doctor if my boy had “cooked enough?” So, now we wait & see what happens Thursday night! I know that my Husband & I will be home with my baby boy, for Thanksgiving and that is all that matters right now.

  4. Joanie says:

    I’m 36 weeks pregnant with a baby boy. I’m also high risk, for two reasons. One, my “advanced maternal age”. I’m 38. But I do not think my age is so advanced that it should be considered high risk. I feel younger now than I did when I was 28!!! 😉 Not that it matters. Oh well. The other reason I’m high risk is because I have a disease called Von Willebrands Disease (type 1). It’s a bleeding disorder. Basically, I’m a hemophiliac. The Von Willebrand factor in my blood is low to non-existent which means my blood doesn’t clot and if it does, it takes a lot longer than the average person resulting in hemorrhaging. So our main concerns are these: First, I’m pregnant with a very big boy (he’s in the 85th percentile and expected to be 8.5 – 10 lbs). Our concern with this is a possible c-section which means a lot more bleeding and risks than a vaginal birth. Second, getting an epidural because of my spine possibly bleeding. (I’m trying to go natural with hypnobirthing anyway so this will just be an easier decision to not get pain meds). Thirdly, post-pardum bleeding. We are hoping I clot normally and do not continue to bleed for too long to where I’ll need a blood transfusion. I have an amazing doctor and amazing hematologist. We are all on the same page as far as my birth plan goes and for post-pardum. We know what meds I may need before birth and after. I feel confident in them. But there are always the what if’s…

    I have a 7 year old daughter now. So my biggest fear is what any parents fear is. I can’t help but think that there is a possibility that I could not make it through delivery and recovery. At this point, I don’t care what happens as long as I make it through. Give me meds, plasma, blood. Whatever it takes. I can’t imagine not being with my children and not being able to see them grow up. I have faith I’ll be ok. But the reality of this disease is scary.

    • sarah says:

      Hi Joanie I am 27 weeks pregnant and have von willebrands am also thinking of hypnobirthing. I whole you don’t mind me asking but I would really appreciate knowing how you got on
      Thanks
      Sarah

  5. Elissa says:

    I’m high risk due to being diabetic (pre-pregnancy). I waited until after 18 weeks to tell most family and friends. This upset a lot of people, but I didn’t want to “jinx” it. In addition to the OB, I see my endocrinologist and the perinatologist, usually all in the same week. I schedule the appointments as late in the day as possible so I can come in early to work and leave early for my appointments. While I don’t particularly like going to the perinatologist, I look at it as an opportunity to get more ultrasound pics of my baby girl. I’ve had more ultrasounds than all of my friends and I’m only 24.5 weeks, but I guarantee I have more ultrasound pics of Hannah than all my friends have of their children combined :-). I ask a TON of questions of both the OB and perinatologist – I always have a list with me before I go to every appointment. Luckily, all three doctors are at the same hospital and in the same network, so they all communicate pretty regularly and are looking at the same chart. I update my family and friends with emails and pics after every appointment and look to friends and family that have already had babies (this is my first) for advice and suggestions, knowing I have to take much of it with a grain of salt because they’ve not had the same experiences I have. However, I think we all have the same fears, regardless of how easy or difficult our pregnancies are or are perceived to be – we all want happy, healthy babies.

  6. Flo says:

    Being high risk is no joke, I have pregnancy induced high blood pressure and have to check my blood sugar 4x a day with this pregnancy because i previously had bariatric surgery so there is no way I can pass the glucose test. I am o modified bed rest until after I deliver and my due date is 01/11/2014. I am however grateful to God that our son is doing well throughout all of this and cannot wait to meet him.

  7. angel says:

    Being high risk pregnancy isn’t easy. I had IVF three times and miscarried. I have blood clotting disorder only in pregnancy. My last IVF cycle I got pregnant again. I was so scared about miscarried again , which I didn’t. I was at the doctors every week for the first trimester. Having to see a high risk OB, seeing a hemotogolist , Having ultrasounds done every 2-4 weeks. I had my son at 32 weeks because oh high blood pressure . He a healthy boy.

  8. Kitty says:

    Since I have juvenile diabetes, my pregnancy gets put into the high risk category as well. Since I’m an eternal optimist, I like to look at the good of things. For instance, I’m in my OB’s office way more than I would probably like….but I get ultrasounds every 4 weeks, which means I get to see the baby very often. I also have to drive two hours to have an echocardio done, but I’m looking at it as a road trip (which I love doing) to a place that has a Sonic. And I love me some cherry limeade. 🙂

  9. gfeld says:

    With 3 consecutive miscarriages and then being told that they were caused by my progesterone levels dipping at beginning of pregnancy, my dr says i am high risk at early stages of pregnancy. I also have uterine blood clots which spice the pregnancy up with more worry. My early part of pregnancy is nerve wracking and I am glad that they are behind me for now. These tips are wonderful. Thank you!

  10. What abt the after birth? Did they end up fine or w health problems?

  11. Darcy says:

    I deal with a high risk pregnancy as well.
    Four miscarriages, protein s deficiency, rh neg, and my growing little bean is breech (and showing no signs of turning.)
    It has been quite stressful at times.

  12. Phammom says:

    I donor have a high risk but know several people who do.

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