High-Risk Pregnancy

I have been very open and honest about my pregnancy struggles. This pregnancy, I'm definitely scared for my delivery, but trying my best to be hopeful and not stress out too much!

Last pregnancy, I had a condition called preeclampsia, which is a serious condition you can get during pregnancy; often, the only way to get rid of it is to deliver early to protect yourself and the baby. Only about 5 percent of woman get this. Lucky me! It causes your body and face to swell, and that was very uncomfortable for me. I had early-onset preeclampsia and I had to deliver at 34 weeks, almost six weeks early.

We induced my labor and I had North soon after. Right after delivery, the placenta usually then comes out. Mine did not. My placenta stayed attached inside my uterus, which is a condition called placenta accreta. This is a high-risk condition that happens when the placenta grows too deeply into the uterine wall.

My doctor had to stick his entire arm in me and detach the placenta with his hand, scraping it away from my uterus with his fingernails. How disgusting and painful!!! My mom was crying; she had never seen anything like this before. My delivery was fairly easy, but then going through that—it was the most painful experience of my life! They gave me a second epidural but we were racing against time, so I just had to deal.

They say that this is what some women died from as a result of childbirth back in the day, without proper care. I'm so thankful that my doctor was able to catch this and address the issue immediately.

After all of that, I still had a piece of placenta attached inside of me and I had to have surgery to remove it. Then I had another surgery to remove the scar tissue. This was all preventing me from getting pregnant the second time around. I have amazing doctors that helped me through the entire process and I'm so grateful I was able to conceive again!

However, with the issues I had last time, my risk of having preclampsia and placenta acreeta are increased and there's not a whole lot I can do to prevent it, so my anxiety is a little high leading up to my delivery. In a very rare case, I might need a hysterectomy after delivery if my condition is severe enough, but luckily my doctor doesn't think this will happen. So as time goes on, I am stressing out less and trying to go with the flow.

I have some days I get SO scared but then I speak to my doctor, Dr. Paul Crane, and he always calms me down. He has been my doctor forever—he was my mom's doctor who delivered me!

My advice to anyone going through this or anything difficult during pregnancy is that all you can do is be hopeful, get the best information out there and just be prepared. The more information you have, the better you know how to handle it!

The More You Know:

What is preeclampsia?

Preeclampsia is a serious and often sudden pregnancy complication that affects about 5 percent of women. Typically the condition develops after 20 weeks and is characterized by high blood pressure (140/90) and excessive protein in your urine. The function of every vital organ in the body can be impaired because blood vessels are constricting and there's a reduction of blood flow. When this happens, it can cause problems including poor growth, an inadequate amount of amniotic fluid and placental abruption (where the placenta separates from the uterine wall before delivery). In addition, your baby may suffer the effects of prematurity if you need to deliver early to protect your health. Worldwide, preeclampsia is responsible for up to 20 percent of the 13 million pre-term births each year.

What you need to know:

Warning signs can seem a lot like regular pregnancy symptoms, though more intense. Swollen ankles, feet, hands and face (especially around the eye area), shortness of breath, headaches, nausea and weight gain of more than four pounds in one week are most common. If it's your first pregnancy, you're more likely to experience preeclampsia. However, family history, a previous pregnancy with preeclampsia, obesity, diabetes and carrying multiples also increase your risk. Managing the condition requires weighing the seriousness of your symptoms with how far along your pregnancy is, especially if symptoms develop earlier than 37 weeks. A mild case might mean regularly monitoring your blood pressure and urine protein, plus sonograms and non-stress tests for baby, and minimal activity (so as not to further elevate blood pressure). Serious cases may call for hospitalization, intravenous doses of magnesium sulfate to prevent seizures and steroids to bolster a potential preemie's lung development. Delivery of the baby is the only real treatment and in the most extreme cases that is the only option. Typically a mother's blood pressure starts to fall a day or so after delivery and returns to normal by 12 weeks postpartum, if not sooner.

For more about preeclampsia, go to BabyCenter.

What is placenta accreta?

Placenta accreta is a high-risk condition that occurs during pregnancy when the placenta grows too deeply into the uterine wall. The placenta supplies oxygen and nutrients to your baby. And normally after you deliver your baby, contractions help detach the placenta from the uterus. With accreta, all or part of the placenta doesn't separate—and trying to separate it can cause rapid, life-threatening bleeding in the mom. There are risks to the fetus, too: Reduced blood flow to the placenta can impair growth, while bleeding may cause the baby to be delivered prematurely. Since any kind of uterine scarring makes it more likely that the placenta will implant improperly, accreta becomes more common as the number of C-section deliveries goes up. Accreta now affects about one in 530 births per year.

What you need to know:

Often there are no symptoms of placenta accreta, although third trimester bleeding can be a clue. If your doctor suspects you have it, he or she may test your blood for a rise in alpha-fetoprotein and give you an ultrasound or an MRI to see how deeply the placenta may be implanted. The deeper the implantation, the more severe the condition. If accreta is likely, proactive planning for delivery is critical. The safest course is a planned C-section with a hysterectomy, where the uterus is removed with the placenta still attached to avoid severe blood loss. (Typical blood loss in vaginal delivery is around 500 ml; average blood loss with accreta is 3,000-5,000 ml.) If you're hoping to keep your uterus, talk to your provider about your options ahead of time. Regardless, you will want to deliver at a hospital equipped with a team of specialists and blood supplies at the ready, as 90 percent of patients with accreta require a blood transfusion.

Read more about placenta accreta on BabyCenter.