This is a question that is asked so frequently in the birth trauma community: How many have gone on to have another pregnancy after having HELLP Syndrome or Preeclampsia? If you did, what helpful tips can you share?
There is no way around it; having another baby after going through a traumatic birth experience is TERRIFYING! Just the sheer thought of going down that road again and all the “what if’s” that are associated with it… “What IF it’s a different outcome this time?”, “What IF the complications are worse?”, “What IF I die or my baby dies?”. The “what if’s” will consume you, if you let them. But What IF… this time is different… WHAT IF it could be better than your previous experience? It is totally possible and I am living proof (along with many other survivor sisters in our community)!
We have to be real about our risk factors and know what we are up against though. The first step is talking with a High Risk OB or MFM (Maternal Fetal Medicine) Specialist to know your risks and so they can provide you with the medical information to assist you with making that decision. In our community, one thing I have noticed is that the advice varies from doctor to doctor. They do not know enough about our pregnancy complications to give accurate predictions. I found a lot of comfort in reading others’ stories through the group pages on Facebook, especially HELLP Syndrome Survivors. I noticed a huge trend in better outcomes in the second pregnancy. Many women who had HELLP Syndrome in their first pregnancy went on to have a complication free pregnancy afterwards. There was another trend of HELLP rearing its ugly head again in a third pregnancy.
For everyone this will be a very personal choice; one that you and your spouse ultimately have to be 100% comfortable with. For my husband and I, we consulted with a High Risk OB, talked about the risks and ultimately made the decision to try again. We wanted to have a sibling for our son and felt the odds were in our favour. We put our trust in God and took a huge leap of faith! This was not an easy decision but we felt comfortable with the fact that we knew the signs this time around and we have a team of doctors monitoring my and the babies health very closely.
We wanted to have a sibling for our son and felt the odds were in our favour. We put our trust in God and took a huge leap of faith!
My second pregnancy was an emotional rollercoaster from start to finish. After making the decision to try again, I was very excited to become pregnant and feel life growing inside of me again (I actually loved being pregnant, even on the tough days). Then came the positive pregnancy test… HOLY CRAP, THIS IS HAPPENING!! The fears and anxiety came rushing back. Reliving my previous experiences and the what if’s. I knew stress wasn’t good for the baby or me, so I quickly had to snap out of it and try to remain calm, reminding myself that I will be monitored closely and this time will be different, even if HELLP Syndrome develops again.
With this, and my belief in God’s plan, I was able to enjoy my pregnancy. Everything was going really well, no signs or symptoms, less swelling, less weight gain, and then the last trimester came. Again, all of the memories, fears and anxieties were consuming me. I didn’t develop HELLP Syndrome until being over due at 40+4 weeks in my first pregnancy so I never had a earlier marker to make it past like most women in the community do (due to developing earlier in the pregnancy), I had to ride out this emotional rollercoaster until the end. It was hard.
Finally, at 39 weeks my water broke! This was a new experience for me as last time I was induced and my water was broke for me. This was really happening now! In that moment there was no space for worry of what might happen, it was just being in that moment and doing what was necessary.
I am here today to tell you that going on to have a HELLP free, complication free pregnancy and birth is 100% possible! My second birth experience was a night and day difference from my first. It was such a beautiful and healing experience for not only myself, but my husband too! I remember it, ALL OF IT!! No fogginess, no lapse in memories or not knowing what happened for days, nothing but blissful joy! I was able to hold my baby right away, do skin-to-skin, breast feed him, change him, rock him, sing to him, be everything he needed me to be! I was able to take so much back that I felt robbed off during my HELLP Syndrome birth.
With all of that being said, we are extremely grateful to have 2 beautiful, perfect little men and we did not feel comfortable risking all that we have to “try for that girl” (like SO MANY people have asked, ugh!) or have another child. This is our path, not the path for everyone, but I do hope I can provide you with a glimmer of hope and encouragement to possibly try to journey down that tough path again.
With the right amount of information and support, anything is possible!