Question from Susan - I am so glad that I came upon your blog. I’ve had 3 prior premature births. (36 wks, 33 wks, & 28 wks in that order.) All of them are healthy living boys! I am now pregnant with number four and am terrified. I was told never to get pregnant again since they have all come earlier each time. Mind you, no precautionaries were taken with my last two pregnancies. They checked my cervix every two weeks, but that’s it. My contractions would just come early. I am left with the decision to either try to make this pregnancy go full term by some miracle…. or to terminate the pregnancy in order to avoid the risk of having a baby with severe problems. Should I go to a high-risk OB/Gyn and do they really make a difference? Please help. I’m scared. If I were guaranteed a healthy baby, I would for sure go on with this pregnancy.
Answer from Afton – Susan, I can’t even describe how my heart aches at the thought of terminating your pregnancy because of the risk of delivering prematurely, especially when you have never had more done than frequent cervical exams during your pregnancies. I want to tell you a little story about my most recent pregnancy, with a brief introduction:
I delivered my first baby at just 21 weeks gestation and two years later I was pregnant again and only saw a regular OB who checked my cervix occasionally. I delivered that baby at 27 weeks. A year or more later I decided to ask my new OB (I had moved) what he thought about me getting pregnant again. He frankly told me that I should never get pregnant again because obviously my body had a natural tendency to reject my pregnancies way early and I was incapable of carrying a baby to term. I went home and cried, devastated that I could never have more children. I decided to make a consultation appointment with a High-Risk Specialist. I met with him and told him my history and he told me that I could certainly have more children! All we had to do was stitch up my cervix and keep a close eye on me and maybe do fetal-fibronectin tests to make sure amniotic fluid wasn’t leaking and everything was holding together well. He said that he did cerclages for most of his patients and there was a very high success rate. Well, I felt very uncomfortable with the idea of a cerclage, because I had never had any pain or warning before active labor hit and I delivered my preemies. I decided to wait awhile, do some research about premature labor and delivery, and maybe get a second opinion from another high-risk specialist in my future.
Well, lo-and-behold, I found out I was pregnant only two months later! Oops! So, I scheduled my first appointment with a high-risk specialist I had never seen before and during that appointment I told him my history and all of my fears about my pregnancy. I then told him about everything I had come across during my research, like progesterone shots, fetal-fibronectin tests, tocolytics, cervical length exams, bedrest, home contraction monitors, etc. He told me about the success rate of progesterone shots in prolonging delivery, and about all of the other things we could do to monitor my pregnancy and recognize the signs of oncoming labor. We made a pregnancy plan that I was very comfortable with and then I prepared myself for a very invasive and difficult pregnancy.