Pregnancy can bring great joy as well as significant changes as you adapt to the physical demands of child bearing. For women who use a wheelchair, some of those changes may present additional challenges.
Before you start trying for a baby, make sure you understand the potential health implications of pregnancy related specifically to your disability.
It may be that you require closer monitoring during pregnancy or your birthing options may be different. Your health professional should be able to advise you of any extra measures that may be necessary.
Things to remember during your pregnancy:
- Choose a lead maternity caregiver who understands any unique needs you may have or who is keen to learn more about them. This is crucial as caring for a pregnant woman with a disability is new territory for many health professionals.
- Breathing becomes more difficult throughout any pregnancy but is an extra risk factor for women using wheelchairs who may already have reduced pulmonary function. Certain sitting positions and exercises will help with breathing, as will getting sufficient rest in the third trimester.
- You may need to use a larger wheelchair to accommodate your rapidly growing bump. A chair that is too small could lead to pressure sores.
- As you gain weight you will become less mobile and it may be more difficult to move around and transfer independently. Consider enlisting additional help at home during the latter stages of your pregnancy.
- You may want to consider the pros and cons of vaginal and caesarian deliveries.
- Visit the hospital ahead of time to make any arrangements that may be necessary for you to be independent post-delivery.
- Above all, keep up to date with your appointments. As with anyone, it’s impossible to predict exactly how pregnancy will affect you so it’s important to keep in regular contact with your health professional.
Disability, Pregnancy and Parenthood (DPPi) is a UK based organisation that provides information and advice for parents with a disability. They produce ahandbook aimed at all physically disabled parents-to-be, which talks about how pregnancy may affect your condition and vice versa.