Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Hearing the cries of her newborn daughter was music to Jennifer Jones’ ears. Not only had the delivery gone well, but she had carried baby Abigail to full term.
That’s something the 34-year-old mom never thought could be possible after her first pregnancy two years ago.
“There were just so many complications with my twin boys,” she said. “I was on bed rest for weeks on end, and we were still worried I might lose them.”
Diagnosed with an incompetent cervix in 2011, Jones, a Dallas resident, spent eight weeks in the hospital on bed-rest before giving birth to her sons.
“At 19 weeks during my first pregnancy, I began to feel that something wasn’t right, so I immediately went to my doctor and he found that my cervix was funneling, causing it to shorten and have a risk of pre-term birth or miscarriage,” Jones said. “I was put on bed-rest at home, but when things didn’t change by 23 weeks I spent the remainder of my pregnancy in the hospital.”
Jennifer’s OB-GYN, Dr. Ted Fogwell on the medical staff of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, said cervical incompetence can appear early in the second trimester. It affects approximately 2 percent of all pregnancies. Factors that have been known to increase the likelihood of an incompetent cervix include cervical trauma, hormonal influences or a congenitally short cervix, among others.
Brothers Carter and Campbell were born at 31 weeks — two months premature. The boys spent more than a month in both the hospital’s neonatal intensive unit and special care nursery at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas before going home.
When Jennifer got pregnant for the second time, she feared another preterm delivery. With a full time job as a speech pathologist and two babies at home, she knew for this pregnancy she couldn’t risk long-term bed rest.
“A baby is best served if we can get to 39 weeks pregnant, which is one week before the due date,“ Dr. Fogwell said. “Babies born two months premature generally survive, but it's still a very serious situation with the possibility of numerous complications. With a previous history of a weak cervix, Jennifer was at a significant risk of prematurity.”
After discussing options with Dr. Fogwell, she chose to move forward with an abdominal laparoscopic cerclage procedure during her 11th week of pregnancy. She found out about her condition too late in her first pregnancy to do the procedure – but this time around she and her doctor revisited and decided the earlier they did it, the better for her and her baby. The minimally invasive procedure consists of four incisions, three through the side of the abdomen and one through the lower belly. A stitch is then made on the upper portion of the cervix to keep it tightly closed.
“I went in on a Friday morning and went home later that afternoon,” Jones said. “I was able to move around during the weekend and then went back to work on Monday — I experienced very little down time. It was like this simple little procedure that was such a huge blessing for me and my baby.”