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If you or your partner is disabled and you want to start a family, you may have concerns about how pregnancy will affect you physically or about practical things like feeding, lifting, changing nappies and so on.
We’d recommend chatting with your doctor about any concerns you may have. Ask what support is available in your area during pregnancy and when you bring your baby home.
It’s important that all professionals involved in your care during pregnancy and birth understand how your condition affects you. If you take medication, you may need to adapt this, as it may affect you and your baby during pregnancy or if you wish to breastfeed.
No two women have the same experience of pregnancy. If you’re disabled, you may find some things more difficult: “My spasms and ability to stand got worse (temporarily) and I had badly swollen feet.” Disabled mum
You may also experience unexpected benefits:
“I found that my spasms got much less and I didn’t seem to need as much physiotherapy as I normally would.” Disabled mum
As well as physical changes, you may experience emotional changes from fluctuating hormones. Restricted activity and movement during pregnancy can be frustrating. It may help to talk to other people about your feelings:
“People didn’t know how to react to the news, some assuming it wasn’t planned and that upset me.” Disabled mum
Becoming pregnant as a disabled person can arouse varied reactions. Be prepared for some negative as well as positive reactions.
“Because I found it difficult to get onto the high examination beds at the doctor’s, I asked if they had a height-adjustable one that could be lowered for me. They did, and whenever I made an appointment, that room was kept free for me!” Disabled mum
Before the birth, consider how your impairment may affect how you care for your child. Look at what support is available to you, decide what extra help you may need and arrange this in good time. If you have a partner, decide the childcare roles and responsibilities you and your partner will have. These should be realistic, flexible and open to negotiation.
If you have difficulty holding your baby, you’ll need to find a comfortable position for feeding. Think about how you will change and dress your baby. Easy-care clothes with Velcro fastenings can save time and effort.
Caring for a baby is daunting for any new parents. Most new mothers worry about being able to cope and need some sort of help, so ask if you need it. Your health visitor is there to support you with all parts of parenthood and childcare. Social workers may be able to arrange practical support or help with specialised equipment for you or your baby.
Disability Pregnancy and Parenthood International (DPPI)
DPPI is a national charity specialising in information and advice for disabled parents and professionals.
Read pregnancy tips from our online community of disabled people.
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