Supporting a Mom During High-Risk Pregnancy
My first three pregnancies were easy. I felt great, barely had morning sickness, remained active and was able to maintain all my pre-pregnancy activities. Then I experienced a triplet pregnancy. Everything I knew about pregnancy went out the window when I found out at 21 weeks I was expecting not one, but three babies. My head spun as the doctor told me my first goal was to make it three more weeks, which is considered viability: 24 weeks gestation and when a child will have a chance of survival outside the womb. For weeks after receiving the news, I barely slept but read every book and blog I could find on triplets, high order multiples pregnancy and prematurity. The information was overwhelming and terrifying. 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. Mom is usually worried about the health of the baby, or babies, as well as herself. She also may be concerned about her other household or work-related responsibilities, which she may not be able to keep up on because of bed rest or the physical limitations of pregnancy. Having someone to talk with can be very therapeutic. When you visit, listen attentively 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 moms with a high-risk pregnancy are put on bed rest at home or in the hospital. While resting in bed may sound like a nice vacation for a busy mom, it is extremely boring and typically gives Mom too much time for worrying. “One of my friends would visit and ask what needed to be done.” says Robin Wahrenbrock, Lee’s Summit. Bed rest is very lonely and a visitor really can brighten Mom’s day. Offer to deliver fast food or homemade meals to her, especially if she is in the hospital. A care package with movies, magazines and treats is also nice when stuck in bed.
Help with the older kids
Mom may feel like she is letting down her older kids because she cannot be her usual self. Show support by offering to pick up the kids, even if it’s just for a couple hours. Driving the kids to school or activities is also a big help. Keeping the kids in their regularly scheduled activities helps lessen the anxiety they feel with the changes at home.
Stop by the store
Offer to pick up a few things the family needs if you will be out running errands. Many grocery stores now offer drive-through pickup. Have the family order and pay for groceries online, then you pick them up and deliver them. Offering to help put them away is appreciated. If Mom is allowed ride in a wheelchair during her outings, offer to drive her to the store and assist as she tries to get her shopping done.
Provide a meal
Providing meals for the family during a high-risk pregnancy is a huge help. The family, including Mom, needs to eat three meals a day. Bring easy-to-heat-up casseroles and freezer meals or stock the pantry with quick-fix meals and snacks. Also consider simple-to-prepare food 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 question of “How can I help?” a mom often finds it difficult to come up with an exact answer. Things you can consider just doing include sweeping the floor, folding loads of 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 Mom is back on her feet.
A high-risk pregnancy usually warrants extra checkups. “I looked forward to the weekly scans,” says Loretta Jones, mom of triplets from Kansas City, MO. “I only made it to 27 weeks, which was incredibly scary, but I felt better because I had just been at the doctor two days before.” Having weekly checkups and ultrasounds are common for high-risk pregnancies, and it can really put a mom’s mind at ease when she is given a thumbs-up for the day. You can help by offering to drive her to those appointments or watch her older children.
During a high-risk pregnancy, Mom often feels overwhelmed with the things she is missing because of bed rest, including time with her spouse and other children, her work and normal daily responsibilities. Combined with the worrying about the baby’s health and hers, this time of waiting is extremely stressful. 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 Mom can focus on her health and that of her growing child.
How to Survive Hospital Bed Rest
Hospital bed rest is a totally different experience than resting at home. The four walls of the hospital room can feel like a prison after looking at them for days or weeks on end. Here are some ways to survive hospital bed rest.
- Sleep - Often it’s hard to get a good night’s sleep in the hospital. Taking naps throughout the day is healthy for Mom and Baby and passes the time.
- Accept visitors - If someone offers to visit, accept her offer. It’s always nice to have someone new to talk to.
- Comforts - Bring as many comforts from home as you can. Having a favorite pillow or photos of loved ones can do a lot to encourage you.
- Go for a ride - Ask if you are allowed to go for a ride in a wheelchair. A change of scenery, even for a few minutes, can make a big difference.
- Throw a party - Ask friends or family to bring dinner to you. Watch a movie together or just chat. Make it a weekly event so you have something to look forward to.
- One day at a time – Getting overwhelmed is easy when the days are long and boring. Try to take one day at a time and remain positive. Each day that passes is allowing Baby to grow bigger and stronger.
Olathe mom Sarah Lyons spent five weeks on bed rest during her high-risk triplet pregnancy. Even though it was a difficult time, she knows it was worth it to let the babies continue to grow before their birth six weeks premature.
As always, please consult your health care provider with any questions or concerns.