When Things Don’t Go Right

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As a person who has faced the worst possible scenario – losing a child late-term – I’ve spent countless hours researching and educating myself about what went wrong and how to prevent it from ever happening again.  Throughout that journey, though, I encountered many stories and pieces of information that may allow mothers to regain the control they once had over their pregnancies.

Listen to Your Gut

The very first sign of trouble for any mother who has found that exciting little positive test result is a sense of concern or uneasiness.  Circumstances aside (as is often the case in unplanned pregnancies, for instance), listen to that feeling.  What is it saying?  Are you worried about a particular illness?  Do you have a vague sense of something “not being right”?  Talk to your health-care provider about it, and if they say that paranoia is normal during pregnancy, talk to someone else.

Midwives and natural-minded health-care providers know that the first signal to be hyper-vigilant about a pregnancy comes from the mother’s own instincts.  Trust yourself, trust your feelings, and don’t stop investigating your health or your baby’s health until you have an answer that feels right to you.

Educate Yourself About Your History

Many complications in pregnancy have a history in the course of a family.  For instance, my own loss due to a cord accident was something that had been in my family for years.  My mother was nearly a victim of the exact same entanglement and occlusion problem, and her mother lost at least seven pregnancies along the same lines.  Likewise, a history of gestational diabetes, placenta previa and preclampsia can also define your risks.

Not all risks run in the family, though.  Sometimes the risks are defined throughout your own pregnancies.  If it’s your first, this can be a little scary, but if you choose to have a second or third child, pay attention to the circumstances of what goes right and wrong.  While the adage says that every pregnancy is different, they are still related and can prepare you to deal with complications.

Do Your Own Research

Obstetricians are usually thoroughly books with clients long before you ever got that twinkle in your eye.  Chances are, even in the best of circumstances, you are only going to spend a total of an hour or two with your OB during your entire pre-natal period, and that applies to the other patients that the OB is seeing at the same time.  The probabiliy of your OB having the opportunity to research a particular anomaly or complication – including finding the most up-to-date information on treatment – is very slim.  As with your health at any other time, you have to take responsibility for your condition and educate yourself.

The internet is a wonderful resource, but information must be taken with a grain of salt.  It is just as easy to build up a false sense of panic over a disease that you don’t have as it is to clarify your real situation.  Pay attention to the source of your information, and be aware that anyone can change anything on Wikipedia – if you find information there, make sure it is verified by other reliable sources.  When you feel you may have found something significant, use your phone to talk to people in the know.  Print off pages for your doctor if you feel that there are elements that are not being paid attention to.

Know Your Rights

As a patient, you have the right to proper health care.  Regardless of your insurance standing or your socio-economic level, you are entitled to care.  If your doctor starts behaving in a way that is not consistent with your needs – not listening to your concerns, cutting short visits, suggesting procedures that are inconsistent with your birth plan – you have the right to find another one.  Some states or insurance companies may require a written statement or a formal complaint filed, but you still have the right to proper and high-quality care.

Additional Resources:

The Pregnancy Institute – Dr. Jason Collins studies cord accidents and stillbirth

The American Pregnancy Association

Womenshealth.gov – On Healthy Pregnancies

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