When you get pregnant, you picture yourself going to the doctor on occasion, but you mostly fantasize about all the fun aspects. Things like watching your belly grow, picking out cute baby clothes, decorating the nursery, and coming up with baby names become part of your daily routine. You don’t want to have to constantly worry about what you eat, how active you are, and whether you’ll even make it to term. However, these are the realities and the things no one tells you about having a high-risk pregnancy.
There are so many reasons why you might be considered high-risk during the course of your pregnancy. For me, it was because I lost my first baby to prematurity. The doctors didn’t know ( and still don’t know for sure) what underlying issues I had that contributed to the loss of my daughter, so they tried to combat every possibility they could think of by labeling my pregnancy high risk and being over-prepared. Fortunately, I was able to deliver my son and, now, he’s a healthy threenager.
Other reasons for being considered high-risk include health conditions like HIV, diabetes, and high blood pressure, plus carrying multiples (twins, triplets, etc), and you're age when you're pregnant (such as teenagers or anyone over 35). So what else do you need to know about having a high-risk pregnancy? While not all pregnancies are the same, here's what I experienced that rarely is discussed when a woman is labeled high risk while she grows a human being in her body:
You'll Be Stressed Out All The Time
There's really no reason to sugar coat the entire process, dear reader. There’s a good chance you’ll be more stressed out than you've ever been, starting the minute you’re labeled “high-risk." It can put a damper on your pregnancy, for sure.
You’ll Have A Lot Of Doctor’s Appointments...
Depending on your situation, you might have lots of appointments with your OB-GYN. I was seen by both my regular OB and a perinatologist team to monitor my cervix and keep my hormones in check. It can make it especially difficult for working pregnant persons.
...And A Lot Of Doctors
Again, this is dependent upon your personal situation. Still, chances are you might require certain types of specialists if you have any particular health conditions.
You'll Have A Lot Of Ultrasounds
Because my pregnancy with my son was high-risk, and because they wanted to keep my cervix length in check, I had many, many ultrasounds. In fact, I thought everyone had a weekly or at least monthly ultrasound when they were pregnant. I was wrong.
You Might Need Special Medications
Because the doctors were concerned my preterm labor may have been a hormonal issue, I was prescribed progesterone hormone shots. My husband administered them to me on a weekly basis, and it sucked. Depending on your situation, you might also require some form of medication, hormonal or otherwise.
You Might Have To Undergo Unpleasant Procedures
By the time my baby boy had reached five months gestation, it appeared that my cervix was shortening. While there was no 100 percent way to know for sure that it would lead to preterm labor and birth, my doctors didn’t want to take a chance. I was given an emergent cerclage (a stitch in the cervix) to try and prevent further shortening. However, there are other procedures that one might have to endure during a high-risk pregnancy as well.
You Might Not Be Able To Have Sex...
Because of all the concerns with my cervix, my doctor put me on pelvic rest early on. This meant absolutely nothing inside the vagina (save for the transvaginal ultrasound wand). Suffice to say, my partner and I were pretty grumpy for well over six months.
...Or Even Masturbate
Oh, yeah. The other part of pelvic rest (for me, at least) meant absolutely no orgasms. None. So even if I wanted to masturbate using only clitoral stimulation, it wouldn’t work. Terrible, right?
You'll Hate How People Treat You
Another thing about high-risk pregnancies is that it kind of freaks other people out. I know my loving (if not somewhat overbearing) mother would barely allow me out of my chair to do anything once she knew I was high-risk. No one in my family would allow me to carry so much as a gallon of milk without freaking out. I appreciated the concern, but also, argh.
You’ll Be Labeled High-Risk For Life
This was one of those things that really made me sad. After losing my daughter, my OB-GYN told me I will always be considered high-risk and always need special monitoring if, and when, I'm pregnant. It kills to know I’ll never have a stress-free, worry-free pregnancy like so many of my other friends. It’s one of the reasons I am fairly certain I will never bear another child.
It’s Totally Worth It In The End
Folks might talk about the dangers of a high-risk pregnancy, but there’s one thing we all need to say more often. Yes, it’s scary. Yes, it can be really difficult. However, if it’s a baby you want, and a baby you get by the end of it, it will feel completely and totally worth it.