Coping with Uncertainty
Although Mada Harpster, of Evergreen, Colorado, had preeclampsia in her first pregnancy, her second was problem-free. Today, Harpster and her husband are planning a third child—but the decision hasn't been easy. "I am still very nervous about getting preeclampsia again," says Harpster. "I do have a little less worry in that I know what symptoms to look for, and given my prior history, my obstetrician is also on the lookout."
Being afraid is a very normal response to a difficult pregnancy, says Garrett. "Educating yourself, finding support, and proactively planning your pregnancy all help to alleviate the fear." Garrett notes that the Preeclampsia Foundation encourages women and their partners to consider counseling if they are coping with a loss or post-traumatic stress syndrome, as it's important to address these issues before starting a new pregnancy.
Your Doctor's Advice
What if you've been told not to try again—not by your best girlfriend or your mother-in-law, but by your physician? "I try to avoid counseling someone to get pregnant or not to get pregnant," says Dr. Repke. "What I try to do, as best I can, is give them an estimate of the risks that are involved, and then help them arrive at a decision that's right for their family. Because there are some people that are very risk averse—any risk is too great—and there are others that are willing to take sometimes significant risks in the hope that they'll achieve the outcome they want."
"Personally, I would get a second and third opinion from a high-risk specialist before believing a doctor's advice to 'not try again,'" says Garrett. "Sometimes this comment from doctors is more indicative of their own feelings of competence in handling your case, and sometimes it is entirely valid. To really know, get a few different opinions."