Dr. Karen Raimer Relies on Personal Experience to Help Mothers through Difficult Pregnancies
A key leader of the maternal-fetal medicine (MFM) team at Johns Hopkins All Children’s, Karen Raimer, M.D. shares her experiences as a mother of eight to connect with her patients.
She’s a key leader for Johns Hopkins All Children’s maternal-fetal medicine (MFM) team. She also has eight children! And 15 chickens! Find out how perinatologist Karen Raimer, M.D., balances her life’s work of caring for high-risk expectant moms with a fulfilling family life.
What is a typical day like for you?
I am working in the North Port outpatient clinic four days a week, so on a typical day I drive the hour to the clinic and get to work seeing consult patients. All our patients have ultrasounds, and I enjoy chatting with them about their history and their ultrasound findings. I try to relate with them on a personal basis as though I’m just having a chat with a friend.
Is there a project you’re working on that is exciting to you right now?
I am working on building the North Port clinic and establishing communication with the local physicians. We started at one day per week and are now up to four days per week. The local OB-GYNs feel comfortable calling me with questions, and I encourage them to do so even when I am not on call, as I know their patients better!
In what ways do you feel you relate to your patients?
I have eight children, seven biological and one adopted. I have had many of the complications my patients have had, so I can use my real-life experience to relate to them and understand how they may feel. I have had preterm labor, twins, preeclampsia, a placenta previa and a 30-week preemie who spent time in the NICU. I spent 10 weeks on bedrest in the hospital and that is very difficult for patients, but when they know that I’ve done it and I can offer some suggestions on coping, they are very appreciative.
What is the best thing about what you do?
When I can place a healthy baby in a mom’s arms, it is the most rewarding feeling! It is especially touching when the mom has lost pregnancies or has had complications in the past.
The most challenging thing?
The most challenging thing is having to tell a mom and dad that their baby has an anomaly that is not compatible with life. I cry easily and often find myself tearing up during these conversations. I just can’t help it.
What have your eight children taught you?
My children range in age from 15 to 41 years old. They continue to teach me something new every day! Patience, understanding, that things don’t always happen the way you would like or planned, but it is OK. Being flexible is very important. In the end, loving them, modeling how to always be kind to others, providing them with a moral foundation, teaching them independence and allowing them to fly on their own are the most important things we can do for our kids.
Can you share something that people don’t know about you? Something that may surprise people?
I’m pretty much an open book. I really don’t think I have any surprises. Just ask anyone that knows me!
What are your favorite things to do for self-care, to take your mind off work?
I exercise regularly and eat healthy. I enjoy reading, gardening, visiting with family and friends and taking care of my many animals. I have three dogs, two cats and 15 chickens. I had to replace children that have left the nest with animals that I can nurture!
What is your “go to” snack?
Dark chocolate covered almonds. They are a treat and the best!
Is there one motto or piece of advice that guides you in your life?
I rely on my faith in God to guide me. I have seen many miracles in my life and practice that I can only attribute to divine intervention.
What is the best advice you often give to moms?
Relax and enjoy your babies. Cherish every moment because before you know it, they are 41!