When I discovered I was pregnant, I was scared, ecstatic, and naive to what it entailed.
I’d always heard pregnancy was difficult, yet I had no idea I’d experience high-risk pregnancy that would nearly take my life in more ways than one.
I was put on bed rest at only 9 weeks pregnant, and was in and out of the hospital for the rest of my pregnancy, until delivering my daughter at 32 weeks due to severe preeclampsia (a high blood pressure disorder) and complete placenta previa (when the placenta covers the cervix).
I never knew what “high-risk pregnancy” meant; I never knew what an MFM doctor was, or that any child could end up in the NICU. Pregnancy itself was so new and scary, let alone trying to figure out a high-risk pregnancy.
Every article online had their own definitions, own examples, and countless answers on what you should and should not do.
What Is High-Risk Pregnancy?
A high-risk pregnancy is any pregnancy with potentially life-threatening complications that puts the mom or baby at increased risk, no matter how small or large that risk may be. The complications may be brought on by the pregnancy itself or stem from pre-existing conditions.
High-Risk Pregnancy Signs
There are many indicators of a high-risk pregnancy. If you notice any of these three signs, or an additional sign that feels out of ordinary or concering to you, please contact your doctor or specialist for an evaluation.
1. Severe headaches and blurry vision
This can be a big indicator for preeclampsia. While a headache can be normal during pregnancy, a headache that is severe or doesn’t get better with rest and water warrants a check-up with your doctor.
2. Bleeding or spotting
Bleeding and spotting can also be signs something is amiss in pregnancy, whether you are 4 weeks pregnant or 40. It could be as simple as implantation bleeding, as serious as placenta previa, or involve another form of defect within the placenta.
Subchorionic hemorrhage is another common condition that usually resolves on its own, but usually starts with vaginal bleeding during pregnancy.
3. Decreased fetal movement
Anything that feels less than your “norm” for movement, or any fewer than 5 kicks in an hour after 20 weeks or so, is a reason to reach out to your doctor. Even if everything is fine, any good nurse or doctor will tell you it’s worth the visit.
Tips For Managing Emotions
One thing I wish I would have known during my first pregnancy are ways to cope and manage all the new feelings and uncertainty I felt. Below is a list of four tips for dealing with the tumultuous emotions that come along with high-risk pregnancies:
1. Advocate for yourself
Having a high-risk pregnancy, that sometimes even the professionals don’t fully understand, is no excuse for getting subpar care. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for not understanding, or even not wanting to fully accept, how hard it is to be a high-risk mom.
2. Get support
All the support you can find, take it. Even if it’s just those who check in every once in a while, or an online community of moms in a similar situation. Baby center online forums and Facebook groups made a world of difference.
3. Entertain yourself
Find your fun, your silly, or your interesting side and embrace it. Always wondered about a certain time in history, or how to make a perfect pineapple upside down cake? Now is your time! YouTube, Google, and Netflix can quickly become great friends.
4. Positive thinking
Take 5 minutes a day, either in bed as you wake up, or in the bathroom mirror as you get ready, and tell yourself this:
You are enough! No matter what you did or didn’t do, or think you didn’t do, you are not responsible for the hardships you are facing during a high-risk pregnancy.
Do not compare your journey to your friends, neighbors, or any other person in the world.
Everyone deserves to feel joy in their pregnancy journey, no matter what that journey entails. There is beauty in every journey, those with hardship, those without, and those with everything in between.
It’s okay to not feel that “joy” all the time.
You are strong! Being a mom is hands down the hardest task, yet quite possibly the most wonderful thing you may ever do. You are constantly learning, failing, and improving. You are strong for everything you do for your kids and yourself, and you should never doubt that.
My only wish is for more people to talk about all types of pregnancies and birth stories, so that we may all feel included and understood in this crazy journey of life.
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