Supporting a Mom During High-Risk Pregnancy
By Sarah Lyons
During my first three pregnancies I barely had morning sickness, remained active, and was able to maintain all of my regular activities. Then I experienced a triplet pregnancy. Everything went out the window when I found out I was expecting not one – but three babies! My head spun as the doctor told me my first goal was to make it to viability – 24 weeks gestation, when a child will have a chance of survival outside the womb. For weeks after receiving the news, I barely slept. I read everything about having triplets, high order multiples pregnancy, and prematurity. I was overwhelmed and terrified. Once I came out of shock, I realized I had to move forward with a new normal for the health of my babies. Thankfully, I received a lot of support from my friends and family.
A high-risk pregnancy is stressful. The mom is usually worried about the health of the baby, or babies, as well as herself. She may also be concerned about her other household or work-related responsibilities which she may not be able to keep up with while on bed rest or because of the physical limitations of pregnancy. When you visit, listen and offer support. A short email or text shows you care, while leaving it in her hands to respond when it’s most convenient.
Many women with high-risk pregnancies are put on bed rest at home or in the hospital. While resting in bed may sound like a vacation, it is extremely boring and typically gives moms too much time for worrying. “I loved hearing from friends and family and having them visit while I was on bed rest.” says Ashley Dukes, mom of twins from Jackson. Bed rest is very lonely and a visitor can really brighten the day. A care package with movies, magazines and treats is also nice when stuck in bed.
Stop by the store
Offer to pick up a few things the family needs if you are out running errands. Many grocery stores now offer drive-through pick-ups. Have the family order and pay for groceries online, then pick up the order and deliver. Offering help in putting groceries away is also appreciated.
Provide a meal
Meals for the family during a high-risk pregnancy is a huge help. The family needs three meals a day. Bring casseroles and freezer meals or stock the pantry with quick-fix meals and snacks. Also consider simple to prepare food items for lunch and breakfast. Try setting up a meal train for other friends and family to bring meals as well.
Help around the house
When faced with the questions of “How can I help?”, it is often difficult for a person to come up with a specific answer. Things you can consider doing include sweeping the floor, folding laundry, vacuuming or doing dishes. Even a little bit of tidying up can make a big difference. Consider hiring a cleaning service for the family until the mom is back on her feet.
A high-risk pregnancy usually requires extra checkups. “I had friends who were willing to drive me to appointments, which was especially helpful because my husband travels a lot,” says Ashley. Helping watch young children, if there are any in the family, is a big help as well. Bringing a busy toddler to an OB appointment isn’t something a mom looks forward to.
During high-risk pregnancy, a woman often feels overwhelmed with the things she is missing due to bed rest, including time with her spouse and other children, her work, and normal daily responsibilities. Combined with the worrying about her and the baby’s health, it is an extremely stressful time. “Think practical,” says Liza Young, Licensed Professional Counselor from Watershed Counseling Associates in Jackson. “Does she need help with the kids? Does she want company while on bed rest? Could you tidy her house? Above all, you can almost never go wrong bringing food.” By assisting with the basic needs of the family like cooking, cleaning, errands, and being a sounding board for her concerns and fears, you will relieve some of the stress, so the mom can focus on the health of herself and her child.
Sarah Lyons spent five weeks on bed rest during her high-risk triplet pregnancy. Even though it was a difficult time, it was worth it to let the babies continue to grow before their birth six weeks premature.