I remember my first ultrasound with my son vividly. My husband wasn’t allowed to come because the pandemic was in full swing. I was nervous to go by myself, but over the moon excited. I didn’t know whether the little squish growing inside of me was a boy or a girl, but I loved them so much already. I remember seeing my son’s little body floating around on the screen and video chatting with my husband.
Can you see it? Can you see our baby? I remember asking. My husband told me he could (which was a lie – he couldn’t see anything, but he didn’t want me to stress about fixing the camera). Everything was perfect.
Then, I remember the ultrasound tech getting quiet and a little tense. She stopped chit-chatting with me. I was nervous. I asked her if anything was wrong and she told me that she wasn’t the doctor and couldn’t answer questions like that.
I had to come back to the hospital that week for a transvaginal ultrasound (an ultrasound where they stick a pole up my lady bits to get a better image of my uterus). It was after that appointment that I was told that I have a ‘bicornuate uterus’ or a heart shaped uterus. For reference, most women’s uteruses are shaped like an upside down pear.
If you have also been told you have a bicornuate uterus, you may be wondering how this will impact you and your baby. Here are 5 ways that having a heart shaped uterus can affect your pregnancy:
My husband and I have a book filled with all of the many ultrasound pictures of our son. We went to more ultrasounds than we went on dates. Going to the doctor to get a transvaginal pole stuck up my private parts became a bi-monthly occurrence for a while. The doctors monitored me closely to make sure that my son was growing appropriately and that my cervix wasn’t showing signs of early labor. I knew my ultrasound tech’s name, her kids' names, where she grew up, what channels her husband liked to watch, etc. She was a great comfort to me during that time and always seemed genuinely excited to see me and my son during our appointments. It can be a little stressful going to so many appointments, but making sure your baby is healthy is the #1 priority.
Watch Out For Early Signs of Labor
According to Healthline, having a bicornuate uterus raises your risk of having a miscarriage later in your pregnancy. They speculate that this happens because the uterus does not have as much room for the baby to grow. This was my biggest fear throughout the entirety of my pregnancy. I don’t think I started to calm down until I reached about 35 weeks with my son. The statistics are a little spotty about what the percentages are when it comes to women who miscarry. Today’s Parent ran an article that referenced a study that claimed 13% of women will miscarry and 25% will go into labor early. I will tell you that I delivered my son at 38 weeks (full term!). You should always stay in tune with your body and watch for early signs of labor (stomach pains, contractions, etc.), but you should also know that the majority of women with heart shaped uteruses give birth to healthy, full term babies. Don’t stress yourself out over something you cannot control.
Your Baby Might Be Breech
Because your uterus has a heart shaped indentation, it is possible that your baby might not turn into the correct position before birth. They have less room to move around, therefore, they might get comfy and stay in one position. Women who have bicornuate uteruses have a higher chance of needing a C-Section. It’s a good idea to mentally prepare yourself for the possibility. Chances are, you won’t need one, but allowing for a flexible birth plan is important for the health of you and your baby.
The reason I went to so many ultrasounds at the beginning of my pregnancy was because the doctors wanted to check to make sure that my cervix wasn’t shortening. This can be a sign of early labor. My cervix did come up short during a few ultrasounds, but not too short. If your doctor feels like your body is trying to go into labor early, they might offer you progesterone pills that you take vaginally. They also might offer to ‘suture’ you down there to keep things closed (a cervical cerclage). Most women will not need these things, but again, it’s good to mentally prepare yourself for the worst.
Frias-Martinez wrote a publication that said that mothers with bicornuate uteruses were four times more likely to give birth to children with congenital anomalies. The study cites specific anomalies such as nasal hypoplasia, omphalocele, limb deficiencies, teratomas, and acardia-anencephaly. Reading studies like this is terrifying, but it is also important to remember that these conditions are still rare. Most women, even women with a heart shaped uterus, will give birth to healthy babies.
Learning that I have a bicornuate uterus was stressful, but it was not the end of the world.
Google can be a wonderful tool for gathering information, but it can also be a rabbit hole of horror stories. It is important to listen to your doctor and monitor your body for strange signs, but you shouldn’t spend all of your time stressing. I have a heart shaped uterus and I gave birth to my son full term. I delivered him vaginally with zero complications. He was a healthy 7 pounds 11 ounces. Having complications in your pregnancy doesn’t mean that your baby will not be born healthy and strong.
Do you have a bicornate uterus?
Let us know what your experience was like in the comments below!
Our next reco: How to Prepare for a Planned C Section