If you’re living with a physical disability, it’s important to know that it doesn’t affect your chances of getting pregnant or even your capability of carrying and delivering a baby. The good news is that your pregnancy doesn’t automatically get classified as a high-risk pregnancy. In fact, many physically disabled women have gone on to have healthy pregnancies. Here’s everything that you need to expect during and after pregnancy.
Finding The Right Doctor
This is the most important factor for any pregnancy. If you’re comfortable with your doctor and trust them, you’re already on your way to having a good pregnancy. It would great if you could find a doctor who has experience treating patients with disabilities. This would also ensure that their hospital or clinic is more accessible, with wheelchair accessible scales, lower exam tables, etc.
Diet and Nutrition
Getting the proper nutrition and putting on the right amount of weight is important since what you eat helps your baby grow. You will need to control weight gain so that there is no added stress on your body. A healthy and balanced diet will also reduce the chances of any complications during pregnancy.
You need to have a good amount of strength and mobility for when your baby arrives, so it’s best to start exercising while you’re pregnant. Discuss water and physical therapy options with your doctor to make sure that you’re safe.
Symptoms and Complications
- If you have a spinal cord injury, you are at a higher risk of a urinary tract infection, kidney infections or bladder difficulties.
- As your uterus and baby grow, it may push against your diaphragm; it can cause respiratory problems.
- You may also develop anemia, which you can treat with iron supplements. Do check with your doctor before considering any OTC medication or supplements.
- Skin ulcers can also crop up, so avoid sitting in one position for too long.
- Other issues include back pain, varicose veins and even deep vein thrombosis.
If you have a spinal cord injury, you may not feel the contractions. Instead, you will need to watch out for other signs of labour like a bloody show or your water breaking.
Risk to Your Baby
Pregnancy with a physical disability tends to affect you more than it will your baby. If your physical disability is not a hereditary or systemic disease, it doesn’t put your baby at any risk of fetal abnormalities.
In most cases, a vaginal delivery will be possible. You will need to discuss your particular case with your doctor to understand the possibilities and complications involved.
Getting to the Hospital
While your plans should involve someone accompanying you to the hospital, it’s possible that you could be alone when you go into labour. Getting to the hospital on time is important, so make sure you have a backup plan in place. Also, make sure that the hospital you’ve registered with is prepared to meet your additional needs.
This is the challenging part for any parent, but you must plan so you’re prepared to welcome your bundle of joy into the world.
- Your child care needs will be different, so make sure you make the necessary changes to your house before you deliver.
- You are going to need help. Ensure that your partner, relative or friend knows about your needs and is ready to meet them. Alternatively, you can enlist the help of a professional caregiver.
- Order diapers and baby supplies in advance, so you don’t need to scramble once your baby arrives.
- If you’re installing a changing table, make sure it’s at a convenient height for you to use while in your wheelchair. If there’s no changing table, locate a spot from which it will be comfortable to change your baby.
- Your crib may need to be modified to allow you to pick up and place your baby easily.
- If you’re going to be the one bathing your baby, make sure you have the essential tools to help you. Remember, the bathroom can get slippery, so you’ll need to take extra care.
- Get yourself a carrier or sling so that you can carry your baby around in it. This will leave your hands free for anything else that you need to get done.
- There are support groups of parents with disabilities who can give you the reassurance and advice you need.
Though you will face additional challenges during and after pregnancy, you can get into it knowing that you can have a healthy pregnancy with the right medical help. Once your baby arrives and you look into their eyes, don’t be surprised if you forget every challenge you faced.
Author Bio: Prapti Chauhan is a professor of Genetics in Bangalore. She has contributed to several online research papers. However, she passionately develops contents on pregnancy, childbirth, childcare and benefits of stem cell banking and umbilical cord lining and more.