Guest author: Jessica Fisher
You never thought it would happen to you: Hearing your OB/GYN say that there is something wrong with your pregnancy, telling you that you could be delivering your baby way too early, explaining to you what life in the NICU would look like… if your baby even makes it that far.
I’m sure this is a very difficult conversation for any doctor to have with their patient. However, it was 100 percent harder for this pregnant mom to be given such a tremendous blow during what should have been the happiest time of her life. What this mom didn’t realize yet was that she had more control over her fate than she thought.
Five years ago, I was the unlucky recipient of this horrible conversation that I received from my OB/GYN. After a routine ultrasound at 19 weeks, I was told that my cervix was incompetent and that my water could break at any moment, ultimately ending my pregnancy and resulting in the stillbirth of my twins. This diagnosis came as a huge shock to me since I never felt any of the pre-term labor symptoms that were happening in my body. My only hope was to be admitted to the hospital immediately and stay on strict hospital bed rest to keep the babies inside as long as possible. Once admitted, I received an emergency procedure called a cerclage where my cervix was stitched closed. All medical efforts were being exhausted but I soon realized that my mental well-being played a huge role in keeping these babies inside.
Fast-forward to today and I am fortunate to have very healthy 4½-year-old boy/girl twins that I gave birth to at 37 weeks. My babies never spent any time in the NICU and went home with me from the hospital when I finally left after being there for four months. So what went right after so much was going wrong? PREVENTION. Other than the preventative efforts made by my doctor, the rest was up to me.
New parents spend thousands and thousands of dollars on medical expenses when they have a premature baby or babies that require 24-hour care in the NICU that lasts weeks or even months. In addition, even more money needs to be spent after the NICU stay is complete to pay for physical and occupational therapy, additional doctor visits, etc. Depending on how much insurance coverage you have, your out-of-pocket maximum could be higher than you can afford, resulting in reaching out for help in the form of a GoFundMe page to get donations from friends and family.
Aside from the cost of having a baby in the NICU, there is also the emotional toll it takes on the parents. Seeing your baby hooked up to numerous machines and going home to an empty nursery each night is not the way that new parents should be spending the first months of their child’s life. I am eternally grateful that a stay in the NICU never became my reality. Thinking back to that fateful day when I started my hospital stay, the miserable bed rest option was far better than the NICU one.
So what is the one thing you can do to prevent premature birth?
Eliminate stress! Stress is one of the leading causes of pre-term labor. No matter how much medical intervention is being used to keep you pregnant, if you are experiencing a high level of stress and anxiety then statistics have proven that your pregnancy is most likely going to end sooner than it should.
Unnecessary emotional stress that occurs during each stage of pregnancy can affect not only the development of the embryo and fetus, leading to changes in vital structures such as the lungs, heart and brain, it can also cause a number of complications during labor. The effects of stress on a growing fetus may lead to low birth weight, birth defects and premature labor. In addition, a woman undergoing stress throughout her pregnancy is more likely to suffer from postpartum depression. Constant stress and anxiety during pregnancy can also lead to unhealthy habits during pregnancy as an expectant mother may fail to consume a healthy diet or engage in daily exercise. Alternatively, postpartum depression that occurs right after or within a few months of giving birth can also lead to a distorted mental state which may be dangerous for both mother and infant. This is why it is essential to limit stress and practice stress-relieving techniques.
Getting rid of all stress when you are experiencing a complicated pregnancy is no easy task. Use every resource available to you, make sure you have a strong support system in place and focus on what is going right instead of wrong.
To quote Benjamin Franklin, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Avoid the NICU, avoid the GoFundMe page to pay for exorbitant medical expenses and do everything in your power to say goodbye to stress. It is a battle worth fighting, so fight hard and stay strong!
Jessica Fisher is a Certified Professional Coach specializing in supporting women on bed rest due to pregnancy complications. She spent 122 days on hospital bed rest while pregnant with her twins and successfully delivered them at full term. After her bed rest journey ended, she decided to continue to support other women struggling with high-risk pregnancies and teach them her methods for staying positive and thriving. Jessica became the founder of Bed Rest Life Coach and the services she provides have been proven to help prolong high-risk pregnancies resulting in healthy full-term babies. For more information, visit her website: www.bedrestlifecoach.com