My baby’s heart-rate was dropping from 140 to 60 beats per minute every 45 minutes – that’s when the doctor discovered that he wasn’t sufficiently growing in my womb.
My due date wasn’t for another 6 weeks and 2 days.
It was a casual Tuesday evening. We were leaving the hospital from a birthing class and I tripped on the side walk for no apparent reason.
I was wearing sneakers and the floor wasn’t wet.
It wasn’t a hard fall but my gut told me to call the doctor, so I did and he told me to go to the hospital and do a quick check of my baby’s heart-rate.
I walked back into the hospital but this time to make sure everything was okay with my baby.
It wasn’t okay.
I had blood clots in placenta so my baby wasn’t receiving a sufficient amount of nutrients, blood, and oxygen from my umbilical cord.
He was not able to grow sufficiently inside my womb so I had no other option but to deliver him through an emergency c-section.
If I waited, he wouldn’t have made it.
The fall had nothing to do with my clotting issues, but the fall did save my baby’s life. It helped us discover the issue just in time, before it was too late.
The nurses and doctors called our son a “miracle baby.”
A few weeks after my delivery I discovered I have a blood clotting genetic disorder.
I never had any clotting issues before so I was unaware of it.
Had I known earlier, I would’ve worked with my OBGYN team to help prevent my placenta insufficiency and my son’s pre-term birth.
Although my situation is unique, many other women I’ve spoken to who have similar genetic issues have endured tragic pregnancy outcomes such as miscarriages and stillborn births.
And most of them are completely unaware of the role genetics play in pregnancy complications.
There’s two specific things I wish I had known to do during my pregnancy that may have helped prevent the complications I experienced.
I’ve listed those two points below to equip expecting moms with information I wish I had during my pregnancy.
1 – Get a genetic test done and review it with a Genetic Counselor and OBGYN
You know that saying “you don’t know what you don’t know?” Well, the more you know, the better for you when it’s a matter of your and your baby’s life.
After having my baby, my OBGYN did some genetic testing and we discovered that I have a PAI1 5G/5G and MTHFR gene mutation that play a role in clotting issues, miscarriages, stillborn births, and other potential pregnancy complications.
My OBGYN suspects these genes played a role in my clotting issues and placenta insufficiency.
Had I known about these mutations during my pregnancy, I would’ve taken the appropriate medications, as recommended by my OBGYN, to help prevent clotting.
So if I could reverse time, I would get a holistic genetic test done and discuss it with a Genetic Counselor first.
Many OBGYN’s are not trained in clinical genetics so they aren’t equipped to help you determine risk factors for hereditary diseases and disorders.
So it’s important to work with a person who specializes in the field of genetics to get a holistic view of potential genetic disorders.
You can find Genetic Counselors on the National Society of Genetic Counselors website or ask your OBGYN for a referral.
You can also research online sources, such as 23andme or others, that do genetic testing and then review your test results with a Genetic Counselor.
Once you’ve reviewed your results with a Genetic Counselor, be sure to discuss any potential genetic issues with your OBGYN so they can help prepare you for the best possible outcome.
Your OBGYN should do standard prenatal genetic testing during your first and second trimester of pregnancy but those tests don’t capture all potential genetic related issues.
Genetic testing may help your OBGYN recommend specific medications, vitamins, or other treatments that are tailored to your unique situation.
It’s better to be over-prepared then under-prepared.
It can be a matter of life and death.
2- Have your belly measured at least monthly
I did not get any sonograms between week 21 and week 36 of my pregnancy. Almost 4 months of no fetus examinations.
It was during the tail end of my 33rd week when we unexpectedly discovered my placenta insufficiency.
So I had a little over 2 weeks before my next sonogram. My OBGYN said my baby wouldn’t have made it to the next sonogram. I get chills every time I think of it.
During those 4 months, I went for my monthly OBGYN check-ups but their standard check-up protocol to examine baby is to check baby’s heart rate for 60 seconds, check my blood pressure, and ask how I am feeling.
That was about it.
I was told to measure my baby’s kicks to keep a track of his growth. I did. He was kicking or at least I thought he was, but kicking doesn’t indicate if baby’s growth is on track or not.
As a first time expecting mom, it is hard to distinguish between a kick, a hiccup, or some other movement.
I was feeling just fine and my baby was moving, but there were some serious complications happening on the inside that were undetected.
After speaking to other moms I realized that I could’ve had my belly measured during each visit to check if baby was growing according to his gestational age.
I wish that my OBGYN would have included this as a standard check-up protocol or that I had known to ask for it.
So if you are not getting monthly sonograms done be sure to ask your OBGYN to measure your belly or do alternative fetus examinations to detect potential growth related problems.
Bringing it all together
Every women’s situation is unique so the two points I’ve mentioned above are not the only ways to prevent a tragic pregnancy outcome, it is only meant to equip you with additional knowledge that you may not be aware of.
If you’re an expecting mom, I hope you take this information and work closely with your OBGYN to get the appropriate medical care that’s needed for your body.
If you have a sister, friend, aunt, cousin, co-worker, or anyone else in your life that is expecting or plans to have children in the future, please share this with them.
My husband and I are beyond grateful for being able to have our beautiful and healthy baby boy here with us today, but things could’ve been very different.
If I can help prevent even one tragic pregnancy outcome with my story and the lessons I’ve learned, it will all be worth it.