Written by Sarah Lyons
My first three pregnancies were easy. I felt great, barely had morning sickness, remained active, and was able to maintain all my pre-pregnancy activities. Then I experienced a triplet pregnancy. Everything I knew about pregnancy went out the window when I found out at 21 weeks I was expecting, not one, but three babies. My head spun as the doctor told me my first goal was to make it three more weeks, which is considered viability – 24 weeks gestation and when a child will have a chance of survival outside the womb. For weeks after receiving the news, I barely slept but read every book and blog I could find on triplets, high order multiples pregnancy, and prematurity. The information was overwhelming and terrifying. Once I came out of shock, I realized I had to move forward with a new normal for the health of my babies. Thankfully, I received a lot of support from my friends and family.
A high-risk pregnancy is stressful. Mom is usually worried about the health of the baby, or babies, as well as herself. She may also be concerned about her other household or work-related responsibilities which she may not be able to keep up on due to bed rest or the physical limitations of pregnancy. Having someone to talk with can be very therapeutic. When you visit, listen attentively and offer support. A short email or text shows you care while leaving it in her hands to respond when it’s most convenient.
Many moms with a high-risk pregnancy are put on bed rest at home or in the hospital. While resting in bed may sound like a nice vacation for a busy mom, it is extremely boring and typically gives mom too much time for worrying. “One of my friends would visit and ask what needed to be done.” says Robin Wahrenbrock from Missouri. Bed rest is very lonely, and a visitor can really brighten mom’s day. Offer to deliver fast food or homemade meals to her, especially if she is in the hospital. A care package with movies, magazines, and treats is also nice when stuck in bed.
Help with the Older Kids
Mom may feel like she is letting down her older kids because she cannot be her usual self. Show support by offering to pick up the kids, even if it’s just for a couple hours. Driving the kids to school or activities is also a big help. Keeping the kids in their regularly scheduled activities helps lessen the anxiety they feel with the changes at home.
Stop by the Store
Offer to pick up a few things the family needs if you will be out running errands. Many grocery stores now offer drive through pick up. Have the family order and pay for groceries online, then pick them up and deliver them. Offering to help put them away is appreciated. If mom is allowed ride in a wheelchair during her outings, offer to drive her to the store and assist as she tries to get her shopping done.
Provide a Meal
Providing meals for the family during a high-risk pregnancy is a huge help. The family, including mom, need to eat three meals a day. Bring easy to heat up casseroles and freezer meals or stock the pantry with quick fix meals and snacks. Also consider simple to prepare food for lunch and breakfast. Try setting up a meal train for other friends and family to bring meals as well.
Help Around the House
When faced with the questions of “How can I help?”, it is often difficult for mom to come up with an exact answer. Things you can consider just doing include sweeping the floor, folding loads of laundry, vacuuming, or doing dishes. Even a little bit of tidying up can make a big difference. Consider hiring a cleaning service for the family until mom is back on her feet.
A high-risk pregnancy usually warrants extra checkups. “I looked forward to the weekly scans.” says Loretta Jones, mom of triplets. “I only made it to 27 weeks, which was incredibly scary, but I felt better because I had just been at the doctor two days before.” Having weekly checkups and ultrasounds are common for high risk pregnancies and it can really put a mom’s mind at ease when you are given a thumbs up for the day.
During high risk pregnancy, mom often feels overwhelmed with the things she is missing due to bed rest including time with her spouse and other children, her work, and normal daily responsibilities. Combined with the worrying about her and the baby’s health, it is an extremely stressful time. By assisting with the basic needs of the family like cooking, cleaning, errands, and being a sounding board for her concerns and fears, you will relieve some of the stress, so mom can focus on the health of herself and her child.
Sarah Lyons spent five weeks on bed rest during her high-risk triplet pregnancy. She feels that even though it was a difficult time, it was worth it to let the babies continue to grow before their birth six weeks premature.