Wednesday, April 18, 2007

When You're Ready to Try Again

After a baby dies, some parents want to try as soon as possible to get pregnant again. Others are unsure whether they ever want to try again. And most go back and forth between the two. This difficult and personal decision can only be made by you and your partner. Here is some information to guide you in making your decision.

Should We Try Again?
You have just been through a very painful experience. Allow yourself some time to make the decision that is right for you. Keep in mind:

* All pregnancies are different.
* You might have to deal with the recurrence of a genetic defect and should get as much information as possible from a medical professional before making your decision.
* There are advantages both to waiting and to getting pregnant soon after the loss of your baby. Waiting will allow you more time to heal physically and emotionally and may help you feel less anxious during the pregnancy. Getting pregnant soon after the loss may make you feel you're moving toward more hopeful times and help you overcome feelings of "failure."
* If you've battled infertility or gone through a number of losses, you need to honestly answer this question: "Can I do this one more time?"

When Should We Try Again?
It may be a good idea to wait a few months to allow yourself time to heal emotionally and physically. But how long to wait differs with the individual. Even doctors can't agree because there are many factors—both physical and emotional—involved in deciding how long to wait. Other considerations include a woman's age, whether you as a couple are experiencing other big changes in your lives, etc. Get information from your health care provider, books and other sources and decide for yourself. It is normal to find that, while you may feel ready to try again, your partner may not. Then it may be the other way around.

Emotional Factors
It is important to recognize that you may be balancing feelings of anxiety, anger, obsession and ambivalence about a subsequent pregnancy with hopeful feelings about the future and grief and guilt about the baby who died. Even if you desperately want to try again, most parents find that their grief intensifies in the months following their baby's death and that another pregnancy feels too risky to even consider at this time.

Physical Factors
Your physical readiness to try again depends on the type of loss you had and the nature of the delivery (Did a miscarriage become expelled on its own or did you have a D&C? Did you go through labor and delivery? Was emergency surgery necessary?).

Your doctor will help you determine when it is physically safe to begin trying again. Once you and your partner have agreed to try to get pregnant again, be sure to:

* Find a supportive doctor or midwife who is willing to give you the kind of care you want. You may need to see a fertility or maternal-fetal specialist.
* Talk to your health care provider about the timing of trying to get pregnant again and the number of physical issues that affect when you can try. For example, your milk may have come, and it may take a while for you to stop bleeding. Your provider may suggest waiting a certain number of menstrual cycles, as well.
* Go for genetic counseling, if it is appropriate.
* Follow a healthy lifestyle by avoiding alcohol, smoking and illegal drugs; take a multivitamin containing folic acid every day; eat a healthy diet, including foods rich in folic acid like fortified cereals, green leafy vegetables, dried beans, and orange juice.

Trying to Become Pregnant
Trying to become pregnant again can become an emotional roller coaster. On the one hand, you may feel hopeful and good about doing something positive. On the other hand, you may feel obsessed with getting pregnant and anxious about the outcome. You may even feel angry that you have to go through this again. Even under the best conditions, you may be fearful of the outcome of another pregnancy. Openly communicate your feelings and fears with your partner and get emotional support if you need it.

When You Do Get Pregnant
Most women become pregnant within the year following the loss of their baby. Remember, it is still normal for you to grieve for the baby who died even during a subsequent pregnancy. When you do become pregnant:

* Be positive and remind yourself that every pregnancy is different and that every baby is unique and special.
* Get prenatal care as soon as you know you are pregnant.
* Take healthy steps. Continue going for prenatal care and taking folic acid. Eat healthy food, drink lots of water and get plenty of rest. Decrease stress and avoid smoking, illegal drugs and alcohol.
* Take charge of your medical care. Get information about pregnancy, prenatal care and other topics that will help reduce your anxiety.
* Consider your feelings about whether or not you want prenatal diagnostic testing. A test is useful when it identifies situations that can be monitored to prevent problems.
* Recognize that this pregnancy may be difficult mentally and emotionally, as well as physically taxing, and that the hardest point to get past will be the point of your previous loss.
* Get the reassurance you need from your health care providers and be open about your concerns and fears.


No comments: