For most women a preterm delivery is traumatic. Whether you expected to deliver early (like I did) or you had no signs of it and it happened spontaneousy, knowing that it was best for your baby to come out before full term can lead to long term trauma and delayed healing.
As terrifying as it was and as much trauma as it created mentally and physically for you, the biological urge to have more children can be strong. Many women desire more children and yet are terribly afraid of the past repeating itself.
In fact, "How can I prepare for another pregnancy after a preemie?" is one of the most common questions I receive from women who know they will be high-risk the second time around.
For details on what to do, click here or the image below to watch my video where I break it down for you:
Prefer to read? See below...
How to prepare for another pregnancy after preterm delivery
There are two main aspects of preparation to do before you consider pregnancy after a preterm delivery.
Medical and physical preparation
First and foremost, make sure you schedule a consultation with a perinatologist to have your preconception appointment. During ths appointment, you'll review your entire medical history (pregnancy and fertility as well as other health conditions you may have) to identify why you delivered preterm last time. You'll work with this doctor to create a medical prevention plan to identify how to lower your risk of a subsequent preterm delivery.
This plan may include additional preconception or pregnancy testing, medical interventions before or during pregnancy as well as medications or supplements during pregnancy. Please note though that this plan is incomplete as it only focuses on the physical aspect of your pregnancy.
Click here to learn more about supplementing the medical plan with a personalized wellness plan to further reduce your risk of future preterm delivery.
This is a great time to get a second, third or fourth opinion.
If you didn't like the care you received during your pregnancy, now is the time to consult a different perinatologist. If you don't like the plan they propose, seek the counsel of an unbiased doctor who is unfamiliar with your history to see how you can improve the plan to make it fit with your preferences and values.
Check out the video above to learn why I got a second (and third) opinion for my preconception appointment even though I absolutely loved my high-risk OB and would hire her again in a heartbeat!
Being physically ready for another pregnancy does not mean it's a good idea to get pregnant again. There is tremendous impact of your emotions on the health of your subsequent pregnancy. Specifically, if you are still carrying trauma from your previous delivery experience, you are likely to have an increased risk of complications and preterm delivery even if you have a rock solid medical plan.
Healing from trauma is critical to a future healthy pregnancy. It is truly a non-negotiable..
Unfortunately, I know there are two big hurdles women face when it comes to this.
First, many women don't believe healing is possible. They believe that the trauma will live with them forever and it's not something they can actually "move on" from.
The reason for this is because they haven't found the right resources to help them heal. Part of that lies in the wrong belief that in order to heal, you must go through the fire and feel the pain from the past, which is something I staunchly disagree with (even though I'm trained in clinical psychology and used to practice psychotherapy from this perspective in the past).
You've been through enough pain. I do not believe at all that you should be in any more pain during the healing process. It's counterintuitive and counterproductive. To learn more about my approach to healing pregnancy and birth trauma, please check out my free postpartum healing workshop.
The second hurdle women face that prevent them from healing before trying again is time. Either they don't want to have too much time between babies by choice or because of pressure from their biological clock, or for some other personal reason they feel they must try again quickly.
The problem here is that this is counterproductive to having a baby because the trauma and anxiety they are carrying in and of itself can impact their ability to get pregnant despite any other physical challenges there may be. (Check out my free webinar on stress and fertility for CureTalks to learn more.)
Accept what you've been through and give yourself compassion to grieve the bumpy journey you've been on
This is not how you wanted your journey to go and I understand the frustration and anger that can come from that. But if you are completely determined to have a healthy high-risk pregnancy the next time and reduce your chances of delivering preterm again, these two steps are critical.
Neither alone is sufficient but both together can really help set the foundation for a much different experience the second time around. I believe in you. You can do this.
Join me in my masterclass on how to prepare for pregnancy after prematurity where I delve into even more details about how to prepare your mind, body, family and medical team for another pregnancy.
We go through the specific questions to ask your doctor depending on the reasons for your previous preterm delivery as well as what to ask when you get a second opinion. Plus, I teach you gentle strategies that you can try immediately to help you start to release the trauma from your mind AND body to help you prepare for a future pregnancy.
Take it one day, one step at a time. I'm here for you.
You can do this.