A support network could be a neighbor who delivers meals, a weekly group meeting at your local hospital, or friends who follow your progress through social media. Whatever your needs, a support network is essential for coping with the ups and downs of a high-risk pregnancy. Below are some ideas to get you started:
A high-risk pregnancy likely means juggling more medical appointments, activities, and childcare. Fortunately, there are many easy ways to keep your life in order.
Take advantage of online calendars to stay organized. Google Calendar is easily sharable, syncs to your phone, and has video calling and notification features. Events can be color-coded and shared with different groups of people.
Care calendars, like Meal Train, make it easy to coordinate food delivery among multiple people. Lotsa Helping Hands is another way to ask for support with meals, home visits, rides to medical appointments, or other things that people in your community can provide.
There are many calendar and planner apps for keeping track of medical appointments, childcare arrangements, notes, and specific tasks on your to-do list. And calendar apps often have more features than your phone's built-in app. For example, check out the PocketLife Calendar or the 24me Smart Personal Assistant.
Avocado is designed for couples and is especially useful when you want a more personal way to communicate your needs to a single person. It's good for sharing lists, calendars, photos, and videos. It has emojis, a sketch pad, and cute features like, "Request a smooch from your boo." The full version is $5.00 for a three-month trial period, or you can download the basic version for free.
Some apps specifically include health-tracking features. CareZone allows you to easily create a list of medications by importing photos of prescription bottles and sending reminders when it's time to take your meds or get a refill. Habits Pro can help you organize and record your daily health habits and goals, including those for sleep and diet.
If money's an issue, a well-known site like GoFundMe can help with fundraising. YouCaring is focused specifically on humanitarian needs and doesn't charge a fee (though the credit card processor charges a small sum). GiveForward helps people raise money for out-of-pocket expenses when facing a medical crisis or other personal challenge.
Reach out to others
You might be surprised at how eager others are to help. And the more people available to lend a hand means less work falls on any one person. For practical and emotional support, search out communities like these:
- Sidelines High-Risk Pregnancy Support is an international nonprofit for women who have a complicated pregnancy or premature birth. Services include advocacy assistance, physician referrals, discussion groups, and email or phone support. Sidelines provides help to family members, too.
- High Risk Hope is an organization that provides support, encouragement, information, and resources to women and families whose pregnancy results in hospital bed rest, premature birth, or neonatal intensive care. Services include volunteers who deliver "bedrest baskets" to patients. High Risk Hope also guides families to organizations that provide grief support in case of neonatal loss.
- Hand to Hold provides resources and support for parents of preemies, babies born with special health care needs, and people who have experienced a loss due to these or other complications. The resources offered by this organization include "NICU 101 Chats," an online education program covering a range of topics.
- our site Community has online discussion groups to connect with others, share concerns, seek information on particular health conditions, and benefit from the firsthand experience of people who can relate to your situation.
- Other groups or organizations you interact with regularly can provide support, such as from people in your church or through your job.
Websites and social media
Set up a website, blog, or Facebook group and designate a friend or family member to manage it if you don't have the energy to do it yourself. The goal is to create an easy way to communicate with large groups of friends, keep them informed about your condition, and ask for help with housework, errands, meals, or childcare.
It also takes some of the pressure off of having to answer phone calls from well-wishers when you're just not up for it.
Private group messaging
If you don't want to blast your personal information across the Internet, ask a friend, family member, or partner to create and manage private group messages to organize childcare shifts, meals, doctor's appointments, or whatever else you need. Create a group email list, a group text, or use a free tool like WhatsApp for group messaging.
Get professional support
Talk to your healthcare provider for referrals to help meet your specific needs.
If you don't already have a therapist, consider finding one to meet with regularly for one-on-one support. A high-risk pregnancy can trigger anxiety, depression, relationship conflicts, and many other conditions that therapists are trained to help you manage.
Your healthcare provider may be able to refer you to a therapist who specializes in perinatal issues. Mental health professionals can also help connect you to support groups and community resources.
Group therapy is different from a support group because it's run by a mental health professional. Group therapy is especially helpful when it brings together people who are dealing with similar issues, such as depression, and is facilitated by a therapist with expertise in treating particular problems.
If your healthcare provider doesn't know of any groups in your area, try searching Psychology Today, HelpPRO, or FindGroupTherapy.com (based mainly in California), using specific search words, such as "pregnancy" or "depression."
Susan LaCroix is a writer, editor, and psychotherapist with a private practice in Berkeley, California. She specializes in providing support to individuals and couples during pregnancy, postpartum adjustment, and the transition to parenthood.