Wednesday, May 1, 2013
image provided by pixabay

There's a lot of factors that determine if a pregnant woman is considered high risk.  Some of the most common risk factors for mother-related conditions are age, weight, circulatory/cardiovascular problems, diabetes, chronic disease, autoimmune disorders, history of genetic disease, and history of having prior complications with pregnancies like miscarriages, preterm labor, preeclampsia and others. Then there are conditions that arise that are fetus/baby related such as fetal exposure to viral and bacterial exposure, exposure to substances both pharmaceutical and street drugs, or if testing has indicated disease or defects in the fetus/baby.
So you've been told by your OB or your midwife that you're high risk... Now what?  What does that change for you?  How does it affect the baby?  Will you still be able to have the birth you want? Where do you turn for emotional support?  So many questions race through your head, you may feel alone and just have constant worry something is going to go wrong.  
Depending on your individual situation and diagnosis, you may have many changes or little to no changes than what you'd typically expect in a normal, healthy pregnancy.  Usually more frequent doctor/midwife visits are in order to closely monitor you and baby's health.  You may need to change your diet, add new medications, and visit specialists.  Sometimes, in severe instances, bedrest is recommended to keep you safe.  If you're put on bedrest, there is a wonderful organization there to aid you in this called Sidelines- http://www.sidelines.org/.  I used sidelines when put on bedrest for 30 days due to my blood pressure spikes.  The representative emailed me and called me, giving me her support.  It was so nice to have someone there that I could share how I felt with and she really seemed to understand.  How your baby will be affected is also dependent on your individual situation and diagnosis.  I know it's common to run off to Google and look for info about it, but often questions like these can really only be provided by a specialist in the condition you are experiencing.  If you feel the need to continue to explore, I would personally encourage you to look into local or national organizations that promote awareness and support the community for those dealing with particular diagnosis. 
Can a high risk pregnant woman have the birth they want?  This is a question I should write an entire post about... I believe yes, any person should have all accommodations made to help them feel as comfortable as possible with their labor and birth.  I believe that doulas are a great resource to depend on to help you find the answers to this question.  Where do you find a doula in your area?  Here's a helpful link to get you started- http://www.doula.com/hire-a-doula.shtml  Even if you can't have a doula, you should be able to have a doctor who respects you and will let you experience your birth in the easiest and healthiest way for you.  Speak with your doctor frequently about your desires and if they don't seem to understand your wishes, let them know that they can do a better job!  Or find someone who is more receptive to you and what you want from your birthing experience.
Lastly, where is there to turn for support?  I have compiled a list of online resources for support just for those who are considered high risk.

You can also check your local hospital to see if there are local groups offered.
Please leave any additional resources you may have in the comments!  Thanks!

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