Support to a Mom with a High Risk Pregnancy
Chances are you know someone who has or is currently going through a high risk pregnancy. Pregnancies get classified as high risk for a multitude of reasons, including multiples, history of miscarriages, genetic issues and the mother's health. My pregnancy was classified as high risk because of my carrying quadruplets.
I learned very quickly that all of the social screens that people normally have go straight out the window in a situation like mine. In their defense, I wouldn't have known what to say to me either, so I hope I can shed some light on what we high risk mommies like to hear...and what we'd prefer you keep to yourself.
There are two sides to this: The first is that some people feel the need to tell the mommy-to-be that everything is going to turn out fine. While that is extremely positive, it's not necessarily true. And she knows that. Remaining positive about advances in medicine is awesome, but there is no need to harp on the rainbows and sunshine that may not be heading her direction.
The other side is that some people try to offer death support while the baby is still living. While it often comes from the best of intentions, it is like taking a knife and running it through the mom’s heart. From personal experience, I can vouch that any mommy in a high-risk pregnancy knows what she is up against. The first thing a doctor does is sit down with the parents and give them all of the statistics of why the baby WON'T make it. If the baby passes, then those same doctors will direct the mommy to some resources to get her started. At that point, it is okay to gently pass on your own resources. But not before then. Please don't be misguided into thinking that it's helpful to offer them before something tragic happens.
No Extra Touching.
What is it about pregnant women and the need for the world to touch them? It's kind of funny really—unless you are the one being touched. On top of that, I've found that having a high risk pregnancy makes you even more high risk for unsolicited touching. When I was pregnant, I would go all ninja on a person if they tried to touch my face. Why? Because I didn't want to catch germs, get sick and put my high risk pregnancy at...um...higher risk. Even if you personally loved being touched while carrying a child, it is much more polite to give the mother-to-be some space. And if you are absolutely dying to give her a back rub, just ask first!
Don't Bring Up the High Risk Situation Every Single Time
Your friend definitely needs your support, but not necessarily your verbal support every time you see her. The best way I have to describe a high risk pregnancy is like walking around with a time bomb in your stomach. The doctors have given you the statistics, you know what you are supposed to do and you also know that even if you do everything right, it still might not go your way. Things can change in an instant, and life will never be the same again.
A good friend helps a mom going through a high risk pregnancy forget what is looming over her, even if it's just for 30 minutes. She will still know you care!
Treat the Mommy Like a Normal Person.
This can as easily be true for all mommies, regardless of how scary or routine their pregnancies are. Just because a friend gets pregnant does not mean that she is no longer herself. She still has the same likes and dislikes (unless we are talking about food...in which case, I can't help you). Treat her like a normal person. She will appreciate that you still see her as an individual apart from her high risk pregnancy.
But You REALLY Want to Help
There is a fine line between helping and overwhelming. Odds are that your friend won't want to directly ask you for help. The easiest way to start helping is to offer to do something specifically. Saying "Do you need help with anything?" is extremely vague, and she won't know whether you really mean it. Saying "Can I pick up your laundry, wash it and return it this week?" or "Can I bring you a hot meal on Monday?" is much more effective. You are letting them know that you've already thought about it and are very willing to do that particular task. It takes some of the stress off the mom when she knows that you asked to mop her floor!
Prayers Not Pity.
As a mom who has dealt with a high risk pregnancy, I can promise you that we can read a pity-filled face a mile away. Please, don't pity a mom who is struggling. It does nothing for her and honestly minimizes the often too-short time that she gets to spend with her baby. She doesn't regret the pregnancy, because she would die in an instant if she could guarantee safe passage for her child.
Instead, pray without ceasing for strength for her, safety for her baby and a better understanding of what she is going through. If you are weighted down with prayers for her and her family, then you are showing sympathy which IS helpful.
Rebecca Ishum is a stay-at-home mom to 2-year-old quadruplets in South KC. She is grateful for the opportunity to share her experiences and encourage others who are facing unique situations. She documents her life raising quads at www.ABeautifulRuckus.com.