High-Risk Pregnancy: Dispelling Fear and Embracing Informed Decision-Making

High-risk pregnancy


My doctor said I’m “high-risk,” now what?


Before you panic, let’s take a big inhale and allow the anxiety to flow right out with your exhale. Feel a little better? Breathwork is so powerful and just one part in the many ways you can take control of your anxiety. Try these easy breathwork techniques and keep reading to learn more about “high-risk” and how it’s really not so scary! I get it though, when most of us hear the term “risk factor” our brain automatically associates danger and uncertainty. So let’s challenge that perception. 


Defining Safety and Risk


What is Risk?


Risk signifies the chance that an action could lead to harm. Nearly everything we do carries some level of risk, whether obvious or not.


Safety is an Illusion


The concept of safety is complicated. While we strive for it, absolute safety is…elusive. Life is risky! This is why weighing risks against benefits is important. However, defining benefits is subjective and varies from person to person. One size never freakin’ fits all. 


Birth and the Illusion of Safety


How does this apply to high-risk birth? 


Truth bomb: Feeling safe doesn’t always equate to actual safety. Hospital births may offer a sense of security, but do they truly enhance safety?


Navigating Risks in Birth


Understanding risks in childbirth requires critical thinking and nuance.


Interpreting Risk Statistics

Different types of studies offer varying levels of evidence. Clinical trials provide robust data but aren’t always feasible in birth research. Randomization or blinding among pregnant trial participants could get tricky, especially when we’re talking about performing procedures on the patient.


Understanding the Numbers


Misconceptions About High-Risk

Doubling the risk means little without knowing the baseline risk. Labels like “high risk” can be misleading without understanding the actual probabilities. Let’s dissect an example involving Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR). We’ll take a low-risk group of 1000 pregnant mothers. Let’s say we know for a fact that 40 of the women do have IUGR, and 960 of them do NOT have IUGR. 


We know that when women are diagnosed with an ultrasound, 90% of the time it’s diagnosed accurately. So 36 people will be diagnosed correctly as having IUGR, but 96 people will be wrongly diagnosed as having IUGR when they don’t. That means that almost 75% of low-risk women who are told that they have IUGR do not have it! That’s WILD.


Understanding Diagnostic Accuracy


Diagnostic tools have limitations, leading to false positives and unnecessary interventions. Relying solely on test results can lead to unnecessary stress and unwarranted medical procedures.


Embracing Uncertainty


Instead of fearing uncertainty, use it as a guide to tune into your instincts. Challenge the notion of absolute safety and embrace informed decision-making.


Empowering Birth Choices


It’s time to reclaim agency over our birth experiences and embrace informed choice. Avoiding fear-based rhetoric can help mothers make empowered decisions free from coercion. Removing judgment and shame from birth discussions fosters a supportive environment for informed choices.


Embracing Informed Birth


Choosing an informed birth goes beyond fear and pressure. It’s about listening to your gut, knowing the risks, and picking what feels right for you. It’s about being proactive. As a birth coach, I offer a safe space for mothers to navigate these complex decisions. If you need a trusted, non-judgmental soundboard to help you weigh out the information in front of you, I am here for you. When you’re informed you’re setting the stage for a birth that’s truly empowering. 


Tell me about a time you had to weigh the risks against the benefits. Did you follow your intuition? Do you have regrets? No shame Mama, just support and understanding. 

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