When I found out I was pregnant, I was beyond happy. And, although at first, my experience was like any other, it soon became a high-risk pregnancy.
By the time I was 20 weeks pregnant, I was showing shockingly early signs of pre-eclampsia, and my world crumbled. Whatever beautiful future I had imagined with my husband and child soon vanished to make way for despairing anxiety.
I looked everywhere for cases similar to mine, but couldn’t find any.
Of course, there is no way to tell the outcome of any pregnancy, high-risk pregnancy or not. However, I’d like to share 10 small steps that helped me get through 12 weeks of pre-eclampsia and turned my non-viable pregnancy into a healthy baby!
High-Risk Pregnancy or not: Take it Easy
The first tip is the hardest of all. Take it as easy as you can.
A high-risk pregnancy is no joke, but don’t take it too hard on yourself. Try to enjoy every step of the way. Unenjoyable as it may seem, make of each day that passes an adventure for you and your baby.
I used to have to go to the ER twice a week for blood tests, Doppler scans, and urine samples. After 12 weeks, the veins in my arms were so hardened that doctors started taking blood out of my feet. It was never easy, but I made a point of having fun every day I went to the doctor.
I would install a fun app and play with my amazing mom, I would go on excursions in the hospital, sneaking in corridors, and stealing passwords to access restricted areas. By the end of my pregnancy, I knew the hospital so well that nurses joked I should work there.
High-Risk pregnancies are rough rides, but they are rides after all, and there will come a day when you’ll miss being pregnant (I didn’t believe this when I was pregnant myself, so I understand if you don’t believe me.)
Take as many pictures as you can, make each day as fun as possible! You’ll be amazed at how fast time can go by!
Get a Support System
I was lucky, somehow. When I found out about my pre-eclampsia, I asked my parents to move in with my husband and me during my pregnancy.
My husband had to go to work every day, he helped me in any way he could, but he couldn’t be with me 24/7. My parents could. We were like the Fantastic Four.
My parents and husband did all the cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, laundry, phone calls, medicine shopping, and file organizing. I was utterly free to grow a baby and take it easy.
Having a support system was vital for me. I met another mom who had had a high-risk pregnancy, and she asked a friend for help, her friend would visit her once every two days, and she felt emotionally supported, she also feels that her friend was key to her pregnancy being successful.
Ask for help from whomever you can: your husband, family, neighbours, doorman, friends or colleagues. Just having someone call you from time to time to check on you and your baby will make you feel less stressed, less anxious, and more accountable for your baby and your health.
I’m happy to help, too, just give me a shout in the comment section, contact me, or subscribe to my newsletter. I’ll be there the whole time if you need me!
Talk to your Baby as Much as You Can
I felt silly talking to my boy. I only spoke to him when we were alone (and sometimes, when hubby was around).
But I did talk to him.
I asked him to hang in there for me, and I promised that I would do the same for him.
It may seem basic, but we can get so caught up in the shenanigans of a high-risk pregnancy that we overlook talking to our babies. I had extended hospital stays, and the staff wouldn’t allow anyone to stay with me during the night (at least not without paying a high fee!), so by talking to my baby, I felt less lonely and more empowered to get through it all!
Pamper Yourself Responsibly
Don’t overdo it, just give yourself some small pleasures, even if they are allowing yourself to feel moody or gloomy from time to time. I’m not talking about pampering yourself with things that will add risk to your pregnancy, don’t overeat if you are not supposed to, don’t overexercise, don’t smoke.
Just rely on the small pleasures to pamper yourself.
Buy that extra-expensive lotion if you can. Stay a little longer in bed in the morning. Slack around on the internet if that’s your thing, or listen to your favourite music all-day-long.
Dedicate this time to you and your baby, and make it as happy as you possibly can.
Days before my son was born I still hadn’t bought him anything. His room wasn’t ready, we hadn’t bought him any clothes or toys. I felt like the worst mother in the world. The truth is that I was scared, I was told so many times that this wouldn’t happen for us that I just couldn’t face the prospect of buying him everything and then coming home without him.
Suddenly it was too late to buy anything, I couldn’t walk or stand for 5 minutes without feeling dizzy and passing out, and a trip to the nearest store was out of the question. I tried to go anyways and collapsed on the stairs after 10 minutes of walking.
So I went for the only logical option: I shopped online!
My items arrived a week after I bought them. I never imagined that waiting for my baby’s first clothes and receiving them would be so beneficial to me. I woke up every day with a short-term goal to look forward to!
When everything I bought came home, I laid it all on the bed and waited for my husband to come back with a huge smile on my face.
It was a perfect day.
If your Doctor says it’s OK: Walk 30 minutes a day… in short 5-minute Walks
I couldn’t walk 30 minutes straight without the ground starting to move below me. I was so dizzy I couldn’t believe it, I felt weak. However, I asked my doctor, and he said I should walk to avoid blood clots. So I looped around my living room in 5-minute walks. It helped me feel like I could do something, small though it was.
Ask your doctor first: exercise is not recommended for every case of high-risk pregnancy. If you have to lay still in bed, do so.
Eat Healthy Meals Only
When I was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia my blood pressure levels were off the charts! My mom used to cook me low fat, low sugar, zero salt meals in controlled quantities. I had my own list of delicious pregnancy superfoods.
After 12 weeks, the doctors said that the food I had eaten had probably contributed to us resisting so much time. And to this day, I believe it did. After all, we are what we eat!
Every morning when I woke up, I would take 5 minutes to try to empty my mind.
I felt like it helped me and my baby relax! I would then let the grateful feeling of having made it to another take hold of me.
Mediation has many proven health benefits, like reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. These happen to be three enemies of a healthy pregnancy (and a healthy life!) Even if you feel like you’re doing it wrong ( Most of us do,) an attempted meditation counts as a successful meditation.
Take Care of your High-Risk Pregnancy by Following your Doctor’s Instructions
None of these tips should replace advice that your doctor gives you.
Nobody knows your medical condition better than your doctor.
My doctor was great! After my pre-eclampsia diagnosis, she took my case to a high-risk pregnancy ob-gyn. They both talked to me almost on a daily basis. They listened to my worries and answered my questions truthfully, even when things didn’t look so good.
When I was hospitalized about to have my son, my doctor decided not to wait a couple of more days as my high-risk pregnancy ob-gyn suggested. She congratulated me for being so strong and told me that I had done my best. Then, she said that she didn’t want to wait any longer. She delivered my son at 31 weeks and 6 days.
My doctor just knew that my body had reached its limit. And she was right!
My placenta was almost dead and calcinated, my kidneys were starting to fail, and my baby wasn’t receiving any more nutrition from me. I can’t bring myself to think what would have happened if I hadn’t trusted her and went with the high-risk team’s suggestion instead.
Find a doctor that you can trust. Go with your gut, even if you feel that it is unreasonable. Maybe you don’t like your doctor’s voice, or you want a male doctor, or you are more comfortable with a senior doctor.
Do whatever it takes to make you feel comfortable with your doctor from the get-go. You’ll have to put a lot of trust into your doctor later on.
Avoid Stress Like The Plague
Stress is your enemy number 1.
A high-risk pregnancy and stress don’t match! Don’t go to crowded places, don’t think about work, or money, or that big move you’re going to go through next year, or the risks of your pregnancy, or global warming.
Just think happy thoughts, as much as you can. Whenever I would start getting stressed I thought of myself, my husband and my baby enjoying watermelon juice at the beach, with the sound of the waves washing over us…
Where was I? Oh, yes! No Stress! Zip, zero, none, nada!
Try not to watch any stressful movies, play any stressful video games, or do any stressful budgets!
Create a bubble for you and your baby and try to stay there most of the time. The time for stress will come, but keep it at bay for now. Your body and your baby will thank you.
That’s a Wrap
All in all, forgive yourself.
It sounds easier said than done, but I’m sure you are doing your best, as I did my best. There are no two pregnancies that are the same, just as no two bodies are the same. Listen to your body; you’ll know what to do! I trust you!
Have you had a high-risk pregnancy? Are you going through a difficult pregnancy right now? Don’t be shy! Leave a comment below!