How to cope with a high-risk pregnancy

How to cope with a high-risk pregnancy

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From eating well to getting enough rest, any pregnancy offers enough to worry about. And if you have a high-risk pregnancy, you probably feel especially anxious. Just the term “high-risk” sounds worrisome. Read on to learn how to cope.

What does it mean to have a high-risk pregnancy?

Having a high-risk pregnancy means that you need extra care to have a healthy pregnancy because of your particular situation. The term “high-risk” can apply to many health conditions and circumstances that affect a pregnancy, such as gestational diabetes, HIV, obesity, or preeclampsia.

What can I do to be as healthy as possible?

The most important thing you can do is also the simplest: Work closely with your healthcare provider or specialist.

  • Attend all your appointments.
  • Have the tests your provider recommends.
  • Take medication as prescribed.
  • Ask questions when you have them.

Your provider can help you stay well. If you have diabetes, for example, your healthcare provider can help you set goals for your blood sugar. If you have depression or another psychological disorder, working with a mental health professional can help you manage your condition.

Make sure you're aware of the signs or symptoms that indicate it's time to seek emergency care during pregnancy.

If you have to restrict your usual activities, being healthy may also include finding ways to reorganize your life so that you can rest more. If you work, this may mean talking to your healthcare provider (and eventually your boss) about how to modify your responsibilities or whether you need to go on medical leave.

How can I reduce my stress?

It's likely your pregnancy will have ups and downs. The best way to manage the inevitable stress is to focus your energy on what you have control over, and let go of the rest.

Here are some of the most effective ways to counter stress and keep your mind and body calm:

  • Rest. Get plenty of sleep. Carve out time in your daily schedule to nap, meditate, or find other ways to relax. If you work full-time, try to put your feet up during your lunch break.
  • Reduce your workload. Ask your partner or other family members to pitch in more with household chores. If it fits your budget, consider hiring someone to come and clean every week or so.
  • Exercise. Unless you’ve been advised not to, getting regular exercise is important during pregnancy. Walking and swimming are usually good choices. Check with your healthcare provider about which types of exercise are safe and appropriate for you.
  • Take a class. Prenatal yoga, meditation, and mindfulness-based stress reduction are all good options for countering the effects of stress.
  • Get outside. Fresh air and sunlight tend to have a calming and uplifting effect. Spending time outdoors may even help you sleep better.

How do I keep up my energy?

During some stages of your pregnancy, you’re likely to feel low energy. Scale back your expectations and accept that much of your body’s energy is going toward your growing a baby. At the same time, here are some simple ways to conserve your energy:

  • Slow down. When your energy is low, it may be your body’s way of telling you to rest.
  • Stay hydrated. Find out how much water to drink and incorporate it into your daily routine.
  • Eat well. Eat plenty of healthy foods, such as eggs, oatmeal, and apples. If you're anemic or your iron level is low, you may need to take a supplement. Following a well-balanced diet is the best way to get all the nutrients your body needs.

How can I take care of myself emotionally?

Don't feel obligated to be consistently upbeat or cheerful. When you're faced with medical challenges, it can be helpful to acknowledge the difficulty of your situation.

If feeling vulnerable helps you focus on doing what you can to stay healthy, then it’s a good thing. But watch out for guilt or shame, which can contribute to depression and anxiety that can make things worse. Don't obsess over whether you could have prevented your condition.

If you're worried about your health or feeling down, consider making an appointment with a mental health professional. A therapist can provide emotional support and help you identify behavior patterns that contribute to your stress, anxiety, or depression.

Support groups provide a constructive way to manage the difficulties you're facing. Sharing your feelings with others helps you feel less isolated and more connected to those who are dealing with similar challenges.

How can I help others understand what I’m going through?

A high-risk pregnancy can be a lonely experience when the people closest to you don’t know what it's like. Here are a few suggestions for helping others understand your high-risk pregnancy so they can give you the empathy and support you need.

  • Be willing to talk about your fears and experiences.
  • Share articles, books, or other information about your condition.
  • Bring your partner or a supportive friend with you to doctor appointments.

How do I ask my partner for support?

Practical and emotional support are key to a healthy pregnancy. Here are tips for talking to your partner about a high-risk pregnancy:

  • Listen to your partner’s concerns. A difficult pregnancy can strengthen a relationship because it's a chance to listen to and support each other. The simple act of sharing each other's worries can help alleviate them.
  • Ask for what you need. If you want help with specific chores around the house, make a list. If you’re having trouble getting your partner to pitch in, ask your healthcare provider to explain why it's so important.

How do I build a support network?

There are many online resources and apps available to help you build a support network. Take advantage of online care calendars, such as Meal Train and Lotsa Helping Hands, to make it easy for friends and family to help you.

For practical and emotional support, search out others in the our site Community or in communities like Sidelines High-Risk Pregnancy Support.

If you don’t already have a therapist, consider finding one you can meet with regularly. Mental health professionals can also connect you to support groups and other resources in your local community.

How do I deal with the resentment I feel toward women who don't have a high-risk pregnancy?

It’s natural to feel resentful of women who seem to have an easy pregnancy when you don't. But the reality is, most people keep their hardships private.

The best way not to feel resentment is to recognize that life comes with challenges for everyone. The woman with the "easy" pregnancy may have other challenges you don't know about. Instead of feeling resentful, try to muster solidarity.

And if you still feel resentment ask yourself whether you would want her to go through what you’re going through. The answer is probably no.

How do I cope with extra medical appointments and tests?

Besides managing the emotional toll, having a high-risk pregnancy also means dealing with logistical challenges such as scheduling extra childcare and arranging for more time off work. When handling all these extra demands, it may help to take a minute and think about the reason behind them: Your health and the health of your baby.

An upside of so many additional medical appointments and tests is that they can also be an opportunity to get reassured about your condition – or spot potential complications early.

Make the most of your appointments by asking questions and following up if you don’t understand the answers. Find out everything you can about your options. Approaching your care this way can give you a sense of control over your situation and may help you feel less angry or scared.

What’s the best way to talk to my healthcare provider about my concerns?

Develop a good relationship with your healthcare provider by asking good questions. It’s easy to forget the questions you’ve been thinking about asking, so make a list a day or two before your appointment. Be as specific as possible: Does my medication have to be taken at a certain time? Exactly what does bedrest mean in my case?

If possible, have a family member or friend come with you to prenatal visits. That way, you’ll have another set of ears as well as emotional support.

How do I cope with not having my dream birth?

Many doctors and midwives tell their patients it's okay to write a birth plan but to be prepared to toss it if things don’t go as planned. Some women with a high-risk pregnancy must have a c-section, induction, or other intervention, which isn't exactly what they want. Here are some tips for coping with the disappointment of not having your dream birth:

  • Acknowledge your sadness, anger, guilt, or whatever other feelings you have.
  • Talk to anyone you trust to be a good listener, including friends, members of a support group, or online communities. Resolving emotional pain is more difficult when you keep it to yourself.
  • Journal about your experience, either on paper or online.
  • Ignore people who tell you that you shouldn’t feel the way you do. Even if you have a perfectly healthy baby, your feelings are valid and real.

Susan LaCroix is a writer, editor, and psychotherapist with a private practice in Berkeley, California. She specializes in providing support to individuals and couples during pregnancy, postpartum adjustment, and the transition to parenthood.

Watch the video: Dr. Nidhi Khera on High Risk Pregnancy (June 2022).

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