What to do if You Want to Become Pregnant
The decision to have a baby is scary for any woman and if you are a woman with a mobility impairment, it is even more so. CROWD has worked with several women in the community who have a mobility impairment and have had children, as well as our medical advisors to gather a list of things to consider and to do before you make the decision to become pregnant.
Speak with Your Medical Providers
The first step in planning a pregnancy for all women is to have a well woman exam. Make sure you have no immediate medical issues and create a plan with your doctor to go off birth control (if you are currently using prescription birth control). Also be sure to find an obstetrician, a doctor who specializes in pregnancy and delivery, ahead of time who is supportive of your plan to become pregnant and willing to provide your care and deliver your baby. This may take time and you want to be sure all providers within your obstetrician’s practice are comfortable with your needs in the case one of them has to deliver your baby or provide you care.
You will also want to speak with your disability specialist. For some, this may be a neurologist, while for others it could be a pulmonologist or primary care provider. You will also want to see any other specialists you may think will need to assist you throughout a pregnancy. These may include a urologist, gastroenterologist, and/or rehabilitation specialists.
Other Preconception Care
Having a baby at an older age places you at an increased risk for certain genetic conditions and complications. Visit the Mayo Clinic - Getting Pregnant page.
Prenatal Vitamins and Nutrition
Discuss your need for supplements and possible changes to your diet. This may be something to discuss with your disability specialist as well as these could be different depending on your disability.
Certain medications may need to be changed or stopped during pregnancy to protect the health of the baby. You will want to have discussions with the doctor who prescribes each of your medications to determine the best option for you.
You may want to consider genetic counseling if you or your partner are at risk for a genetic condition or if either of you are over age 35. This is something to discuss with your doctor.
Disability Specific Planning
The items listed above are important for all women to consider before pregnancy. The list below are some things to consider specific to disability.
- Autonomic Dysreflexia: prenatal exams and labor and delivery can lead to autonomic dysreflexia. Be sure to bring this to your doctor’s attention.
- Changes to Bowel and Bladder Routine: your bowel and bladder program will probably change as pregnancy progresses – something you will need to discuss with your doctors.
- Self-Care During Pregnancy: You may need extra assistance from others as your pregnancy progresses. Transfers and other routine care may become more difficult as your body changes and the baby grows. You will want to start planning this in advance.
- Wheelchair Adjustments: You may need to have adjustments to your wheelchair seating during pregnancy. As you gain weight and your balance changes, you may require extra support. Speak with your mobility provider ahead of time to discuss necessary changes.
- After Pregnancy Care: This is another time you may want to plan for extra personal assistance. New moms are tired and need extra help with general tasks! You want to be able to focus on your baby without the added worry of who will provide your care.
- Parenting: There are many things to consider when planning to parent as a woman with a disability. But do not worry! Other women have done this before and created resources to help you. Visit our Parenting with a Disability page for more information.