Pregnancy is a cause of delight as well as apprehension for most women. You are worried about the changes your body will undergo, the loss of independence, the mood swings and of course the new life taking shape inside you. The fears and the worries double up when you are pregnant and are suffering from disabilities.
But that need not be the case. Technology has progressed to enable expectant mothers with disabilities to have a safe pregnancy and child-birth. There are going to be dilemmas and tough moments. But, being psychologically strong will help in having a smooth pregnancy. In this post we address some of the fears of expectant women with disabilities and how to get rid of them.
Accept and Deal with the Social Shock
Why the surprise? This is what I wanted to ask my family members and friends after seeing the look on their face when I told them I am pregnant. Is a woman with disabilities getting pregnant that incredible? Social reactions might tell you so but the reality is that more and more individuals with disabilities are opting for pregnancy and parenthood. The gap in the medical arena concerning pregnancy in disabled women has been met to a large extent. Obstetricians are more sensitive and well-trained to deal with pregnancies in disabled women.
So, next time you see and hear disbelief at the news of your pregnancy, deal with the reaction with a pinch of salt. Veer the conversation to another direction. Don’t be scared to tell people. Instead, derive as much information as you can on the issues you feel might cause problems in your pregnancy.
You will come across a lot of information that might make you more anxious. Address these issues. Talk to your doctor and your partner. However, you will also come across information that will help you have a positive and healthy pregnancy. Being correctly informed is one of the prerequisites to a healthy pregnancy.
Pick a Hospital Where All Your Healthcare Needs Are Met
Having anxiety pangs about your delivery? Most women go through delivery-related stress. However, this stress only does more harm than good. To alleviate these fears and feel more confident about your pregnancy and delivery, pick a hospital or medical center that is well-equipped for your needs and ready to make the required alterations for you to have a smooth pregnancy.
A hospital that has a resident disability specialist along with cooperative nurses and supportive gynecologist should be your first choice. Pick a facility that has specially designed labor and delivery wards for those with disabilities. Give preference to a hospital that is close to your home and has all the required facilities. Distance and accessibility can play key roles during the third trimester and the closer the facility, the better.
Have a Support Group
Don’t let the over-reactions of some people make you go into a shell or become depressed. This is a new phase of your life and having positive and encouraging people around you will make the experience an enjoyable one for you. Meet fellow disabled, pregnant women and mothers with disabilities. Learn about their experiences. You will find great support and information.
Form a group of mothers-to-be and meet up weekly. Bond over your pregnancy. Exchange anecdotes and information. Build a circle of trust, share and talk openly. You will feel much more confident and relaxed when you meet and interact with other women just like you and in the same stage of life.
This is also the time you will need your spouse to be supportive of you. With hormones playing havoc during this phase, he should be able to bear with your mood swings and bouts of depression. Make your spouse your best friend and confidante. Ask for what you need from him-- sensitivity, care and attention.
Some partners automatically know how to deal with a pregnancy and make you feel loved and special during this phase. However, some may not. Telling him what you are expecting will help. Share your fears and apprehensions and co-operate with him when he is trying to find solutions. Spousal support is important during this phase.
Retain Your Mobility and Accessibility
Do not give up on your independence and mobility as soon as you hear the news that you are pregnant. In the first trimester carry on with all that you did prior to the pregnancy. Some additional exercise during this time is a good idea. Keep a check on your diet. Certain foods might affect your body adversely when you are pregnant. Go to the supermarket yourself until you can, and pick your foods carefully.
Go for strolls in the early mornings and evenings and take in the fresh air. See your disability doctor, nutritionist and gynecologist regularly to know the progress of your pregnancy. Your partner can accompany you to these trips, or you can use some specially built vehicles like the pride go go mobility scooter or the challenger sport mobility scooter to make these necessary visits and trips. The important part is that you should not surrender your accessibility and mobility.
Prepare for the Baby before Childbirth
Pregnancy is the first step. Parenting is the actual climb up the mountain. Be aware of your conditions and restrictions. Take informed and well-planned decisions about your pregnancy whether you are going to be a single mother or will have your partner’s support.
Choose the method of birth after weighing the pros and cons of vaginal delivery and C-section for your individual case. Ask your doctor if your body will support breastfeeding of the infant. Take appropriate decisions. Find and seek help from an occupational therapist who can provide you with solutions for baby care tasks.
Talk to your physical and occupational therapist and ask them about suitable adaptive equipment that will allow you to hold, play, feed and care for your baby like any other mother. This equipment facilitates baby-care for disabled mothers and ensures the safety of both the mother and the child. Remember, as a mother you should not become vulnerable to injury while nurturing your child.
Your doctors can also show you specific techniques of handling the baby properly and postures where you can be most comfortable holding and feeding the baby without risking injury to the baby. Having a nanny will not make you any less of a mother but will just be additional help. Consider the option.
Be confident about your pregnancy. Have honest discussions with your doctors, family and friends. Ask yourself how prepared you are for it. Do not panic at the jerky reactions you receive from others or when you receive the tag of a high-risk patient. Your disability may make you vulnerable but research has proved that all women with disabilities are not high risk patients and are equally capable of delivering healthy babies. So take care and don’t feel scared. Keep in mind the points mentioned here and get ready to enjoy the rollercoaster ride of pregnancy.