I’ve seen a lot of women ask on baby forums and elsewhere about seeing consultants and I think there’s a general lack of knowledge around low/high risk pregnancies so wanted to write a quick post about it. Please remember I’m in no way a medical expert and anything I say here is based upon my own limited experience – please ask a midwife/doctor etc anything you’re not sure on!
When I had my booking in appointment during my first pregnancy, I was categorised as potentially high risk as I’d got a history of mental health issues, including a previous hospital admission the summer before. This meant I had some extra appointments to see a specialist mental health midwife so they could check how I was doing and put in place a plan should my health deteriorate following the birth. Being high risk also automatically means they want you to give birth at a consultant-led unit rather than a midwife-led unit or at home.
At 33 weeks, it was decided because I hadn’t been on medication during my pregnancy and hadn’t been unwell at all, they would step me down to low risk and I’d just have a follow up appointment six weeks after the birth. But then because I started showing symptoms of pre-eclampsia at 37 weeks and my platelets became dangerously low, I ended up becoming high risk again and giving birth in the consultant-led unit after being induced.
This time round, I was automatically high risk and as such won’t even be giving birth at the hospital I had Alexandra in, I’ll be going to Birmingham Women’s Hospital which takes on the complicated cases from around the region. This has meant monthly obstetric and rheumatology appointments (more often from the end of the second trimester), monthly haematology appointments with plenty of blood tests, frequent cardiology appointments and echocardiograms and ECGs to check how my heart’s performing, weekly midwife appointments from 16 weeks (luckily I’m able to have these at my GP surgery) and more frequent scans (so far at six, eight, 12, 17 and 20 weeks as opposed to the standard 12 and 20).
It’s also meant a change in medication (although actually taking fewer tablets each day) and twice daily Clexane injections (which are a bitch but worth it if it keeps us safe!). We were told very early on that as soon as we had any worrying signs or symptoms we’d need to have a frank discussion straightaway. They will deliver at 37 weeks (considered term, although your due date is 40 weeks) but would be more than happy to deliver at 34 weeks if needed and will consider it beforehand if necessary. Thankfully we’re now at the stage where they would be looking at early delivery with every medical intervention possible to ensure baby was healthy, rather than being told we need to end the pregnancy to save my life.
Of course, a lot of this is fairly worrying and yes it would be lovely to have a low risk pregnancy! But equally, baby has been perfect on all scans so far and I would be much more upset if we had to contend with the thought of our little one being poorly. I’ve said from the outset that, while some people may have considered it too much stress to go through, this pregnancy and everything that has gone with it will be more than worth it if we have a healthy baby at the end of it.
If we’d been told at the start of our pregnancy with Alexandra what was about to happen, then maybe we would have considered our options. But knowing what we know now, and having her in our lives, would we go through that again? Absolutely, a million times over. And I think that’s what’s made this second pregnancy easier, knowing how much I already love our second baby and how much more I’ll love him once he’s here and I can hold him and watch him grow every day. Knowing how much being Alexandra’s mom means to me and knowing I have a chance to have that all over again and to give her a sibling to grow up with – a few people have said to me they couldn’t deal with the injections and all the appointments and the stress, but it’s more than worth it for that chance.
Sorry we got all a bit slushy towards the end there! Here’s to reaching 24 weeks this weekend and trying to keep baby in there for a few weeks longer!
Harriet, Alexandra and bump x