Christina's pregnancy advice

Posted by  | Tuesday, December 16, 2008  at 9:16 AM  
First off, this week is really going to give me baby fever! Despite our wacko pregnancies - I miss being pregnant! Second of all, please do not let this post scare you. I simply want to share important information that I wish I had known prior to the end of my first pregnancy! If you are pregnant now, do not let the facts create anxiety! Psalm 121 is a huge comfort to me in moments of fear. (Including my pregnancies!)

"I lift my eyes up to the hills -
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip-
he who watches over you will not slumber.
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you -
the Lord is your shade at your right hand.
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm -
he will watch over your life.
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore."


For any new readers, I have two kids. Will was born in June of 2006 and Adeline in March of 2008. Both of my pregnancies started out normal, but ended a little more complicated. Will was born at 32 weeks due to preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome. Here is the long version of his birth story. Adeline was born at 37 weeks after 5 weeks of bedrest due to PIH (pregnancy induced hypertension). You can read her birth story on our family blog, here.

My hope for this post is to give some information about preeclampsia, HELLP syndrome and premature births in general. I'm still suprised at the number of pregnant women I encounter that have not heard about preeclampsia.

First off - I have some advice unrelated to preeclampsia. If you've ever been pregnant, you've likely dealt with some degree of "morning sickness" or nausea. With my first, the nausea was very manageable. It wasn't pleasant, but it was not bad. With my second (a girl - I think that caused the difference!), the nausea was debilitating. I WISHED I could have thrown up. I know that may sound crazy to someone who did and did often, but the few times I threw up made me feel so much better! To help me get through my days teaching, the doctor gave me a prescription for Zofran.

Here's my bit of advice about Zofran. Watch out for constipation. I have N.E.V.E.R. experienced anything more painful and unpleasant in my life. I had no idea it was side effect of that drug until I ended up at my OB after one horrid night. After that, I still took the Zofran, but much less frequently and I was sure to combat the constipating factors.

Now that I've said my peace about that...

Preeclampsia - Is a dangerous condition that only occurs in pregnancy or the postpartum period. The three main symptoms are high blood pressure, protein in your urine and swelling. (If you click on my son's birth story - there is a picture that shows how extreme my swelling was.) This is why they take your blood pressure and check your pee at every OB visit!

It mostly occurs in the late 2nd and 3rd trimesters and only occurs in about 5-8% of pregnancies. Most often, it occurs very late in the 3rd trimester and delivery is induced. Delivery is the only "cure" for this condition, although it can be managed in order to delay an extremely premature delivery. My preeclampsia was managed for a week before my son was born. Symptoms to report to your doctor include headache, vision changes, sudden swelling and stomach pain.

HELLP - This acronym stands for- Hemolysis Elevated Liver enzymes Low Platelets. This condition is a very serious complication of preeclampsia, although it can rarely occur apart from preeclampsia. Basically, this is when your liver is failing. Symptoms include right side abdominal pain (where your liver is), nausea and vomiting. This is ultimately what caused Will to be born at 32 weeks. Like preeclampsia, the only cure is delivery.

PIH - Pregnancy Induced Hypertension is what I battled the entire second half of my pregnancy with Adeline. I've heard different stories as to whether or not it actually is the same thing as preeclampsia. I think of it as a precursor to preeclampsia. It is the high blood pressure without the other preeclampsia symptoms. High blood pressure in pregnancy can be dangerous to the fetus and result in poor growth for the fetus among other things. (Will weighed 3lbs because of my blood pressures.)

There are safe medications that can be used during pregnancy to lower blood pressure and "manage" both preeclampsia and PIH. I took one called Procardia. Bedrest is often used to keep the blood pressures down as well and allow optimal blood flow to the baby. I truly think that the five weeks of bedrest with Adeline allowed her to grow to a more healthly weight of almost 7 pounds (50th percentile). With Will - my blood pressure went unchecked and he weighed in at 3 pounds (less than 5th percentile for his gestation).

One last thing to be mindful of are the fetal kick counts that your doctor usually asks you to do once a day after about 28 weeks into the pregnancy. Decreased movement is always a reason to call your doctor. It was ultimately why I called my doctor on the day Adeline was born. It can be a sign that the baby is under stress and when Mom has high blood pressure the baby is more likely to be under stress.

There are many other causes of premature birth, including preterm labor and premature rupture of membranes (your water breaks!). The March of Dimes is a wonderful resource when it comes to information about prematurity and its causes.

Anyone have experience with pre-term labor or a premature delivery? Please share your story so other can benefit!

4 comments:

Mallory, Amy & John Mark said...

Christina,

I took Zofran ALL through my first pregnancy as I was nauseous and vomiting up until week 34. I too battled the severe constipation but continued to take the medication because I was losing too much weight. My OB recommended Colace, a stool softener that you can take twice a day to help, and it did help some. Also, fruit juices (apple and prune specifically) are great helps, lots of water, and light exercise.

I am pregnant again with #2 (almost 19 weeks) and am praising the Lord that my nausea/vomiting has not been as severe this time. I still take Zofran on occassion, but not nearly as frequently as with #1. I have battled some constipation this time, but since the Zofran is less, so is the constipation. I've got an appt with the doc on Friday (and the ultrasound!) so hopefully there has been weight gain and not weight loss!

Thanks for your tips!

Curt, Mariah, & Carli Badura said...

My husband, Curt and I went to NGCSU with Hugh and Hollie Carson. She is the one who told us about your awesome blog!

We now have 2 precious children. Carli, born at 35 weeks on 9/27/06 and Cole, born at 37 weeks on 11/8/08 (after 5 weeks of bed rest). Both of their birth stories are on our blog: www.cmbadura.blogspot.com You can search for "birth story". Carli's was posted on 2/7/07 and Cole's on 11/30/08. Please leave comments and or email me... mariahbadura@gmail.com with any questions.

Mariah
www.cmbadura.blogspot.com

The Watczaks said...

Hi, there! I've been stalking your blog for awhile but never commented on it.

We just brought our sweet Emma home from the NICU; she was born November 12.

Emma had more problems than the fact that she was a little early, but you asked for people to share about preemies, so I'll share about that aspect.

My advice would be ...
a) If you think you're in labor, don't be afraid of being the "woman who cried wolf." My brother, who was "on call" to watch our son when Emma was born, put it best - being embarrassed and sent home from the hospital for mistaking indigestion for labor pains is MUCH better than delivering a high-risk baby in the back of the car because you didn't go in time. We left right after that phone call - the hospital was where we needed to be.

b) make sure you celebrate, even if there is other scary stuff going on. If you have a preemie or baby in NICU, you will feel overly happy one minute and horribly sad the next (and what hormonal new mom doesn't?). Ride the roller coaster and allow yourself to feel both of those things. Make as many of the happy "we had a baby!" phone calls as you feel like making, even if your baby is in NICU and you're in recovery. And surround yourself with people who will celebrate your baby. You need support for the hard situation, but babies who are early should get celebrated, too!

c) "count your blessings" sounds trite, but I find that in any situation, if you keep a score card, the Lord's blessings and faithfulness wins over the number of things that stink about the situation. Write a list, even the lame ones like "I'm glad I didn't poop during delivery." Emma needed to be on a feeding tube, but she didn't need to be ventilated. That's a blessing and it helps me to remember the Lord's faithfulness by looking at it that way. HE IS MIGHTY TO SAVE - Zephaniah 3:17

Sorry for rambling, but I sort of felt like God wanted me to share ...

Check out watzspot.blogspot.com for Emma's full story (link on the sidebar) - I hope I'm encouraging someone in a tough situation by posting!
-Becky

Michael & Sarah said...

Hi - I'm a regular reader, and a friend of Christina's since our prior lifetime (aka high school) and wanted to comment on premature labor/birth. Sydney was born at 37 weeks exactly - much like Adeline, execept that she came totally on her own. My water broke (at home, in the bathroom, luckily and on my husband's birthday to boot) and from there it was go to hospital, do not come home until baby arrives. It threw us both for a loop, since she was our first, and we had heard the stories to expect her LATE, not early... and coupled with the fact I had a checkup three days before she was born and nothing (no. thing.) was going on in the baby expelling department, my OB was quite shocked (and impressed)! that she came on her own, at 37 weeks. So... I guess my advice would be to pack your bags around week 30 and have a checklist of things to grab on your way out the door. Had we done this, we wouldn't have been rushing around at the last minue (or, sending hubby home four times or asking friends to bring random things) to get everything we needed for the hospital stay! Granted, she was technically full term and healthy, but at least we have a great story to share.

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