From the moment that positive test result shows, you imagine what the little miracle growing inside you will look like, what they’ll be like, their hobbies and interests, which parent they will be closest to etc. But what if you have a high-risk pregnancy?
Around 8% of all pregnancies are considered high risk. Most will have heard about gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia. But some pre-existing medical conditions can get you placed in the high-risk category from the moment your GP or hospital are informed about your pregnancy! Luckily, I knew I’d be high-risk before I even got pregnant. However, for those who don’t expect to be told that they have risk factors at their booking appointment, the news can come as a huge shock.
So what should you expect if you have a high-risk pregnancy?
I can only speak from my personal experience. However, you can almost certainly expect to be under consultant-led care. Exactly when you meet your consultant depends, but I met mine when I was 13 weeks pregnant. At your first appointment, they’ll discuss your risk factors with you, then make a plan regarding what you need from there. For me, things like starting Fragmin injections and high dose Folic Acid had already been actioned as soon as the local Early Pregnancy Unit confirmed viability at just over 5 weeks. But what I wasn’t quite expecting was to be told that I needed a referral to a different hospital this early on.
Referrals to a different hospital usually only happen if your hospital doesn’t have the specialists required. We had to be referred because I hadn’t had a maternal medicine consultation since 2017. Additional risk factors for referral included my medical and family history (we have a few congenital defects in our family). Luckily, it was to one of the best units in the UK, the Silver Star Unit at Oxford, and I can’t thank them enough for everything they’ve done so far. Not only have I now had a maternal medicine consultation with them, but we’re also under the genetics team for testing that needs to be done before I go into labour! Thanks to Covid, my Silver Star appointments have been virtual, but it’s meant that Alex has been able to be with me on the calls, as it’s something he likely wouldn’t have been able to attend if the appointments were face-to-face in Oxford due to flying schedules.
Thankfully, the lovely people at Silver Star have been advising our local hospital’s obstetrics team of everything that needs doing so that we don’t have to make the 120 mile round trip to Oxford. Luckily, the consultant at my local hospital had the majority of things recommended in place already: the anaesthetic referral due to local anaesthetics being completely ineffective, a GTT at 28 weeks, Fragmin injections and growth scans to keep a close eye on the little one. I’m also under a team at my local hospital who are experienced in dealing with high-risk pregnancies, meaning that I get the same midwife right up until I go into labour, and if not my midwife, then another midwife from that team will be with me during labour and delivery. The only thing that needed adding on top of the original plan was cervical length scans due to my pre-term labour risk.
As I get further into this pregnancy, one thing that will definitely be increasing is monitoring. Not just through growth scans, but no doubt regular checkups to listen to the little one. Unfortunately, due to one of my conditions, I’m not able to feel movement, so Alex and I have to palpate my tum for them instead. Interesting fact – Alex felt little one before me! We’ve already had one period recently of not feeling little one move for a while, which led to a triage visit, something that my midwife suspects will increase as this pregnancy progresses.
All in all, there aren’t too many changes appointment and monitoring wise with high-risk pregnancy until you get further along. Apart from my 13-week consultant appointment, 17-week growth scan, and two appointments with Silver Star, all my other appointments have been what you would expect in any pregnancy (booking appointment, 12-week scan, and 16-week appointment). The only difference I’ve had with my midwife appointments is that mine are face-to-face and done at home unless I need blood tests (most appointments are phone call due to covid), and my midwife attends all my scans with me as well as local hospital consultant appointments.
Want to know more about our high-risk pregnancy journey? We’ll be doing monthly posts about what appointments, scares and more we’ve had! If you have a question in the meantime, pop it in the comments below or send us a message on Instagram, and we’ll get back to you!