What do I need to consider?

All women experience pregnancy differently. Having a physical disability is no different though there may be a few extra things that need to be considered.

Seek good medical advice before, during and after pregnancy and birth

  • Start with your GP.
  • Your GP can refer you to:
    • Specialist support in the public or private sector.
    • Health professional support for mobility, health and well being, mental health, pain management, physical fitness and looking after your child.
    • Health professionals who specialize or have special interests in women’s health, pregnancy and related support.
  • Your health professional team who support your disability needs can continue to support you throughout your pregnancy and beyond.
  • Ask all the health professionals to work together to help you.

To learn more:

Know the changes that occur during pregnancy

  • Hormonal changes: The hormone relaxin affects the cardiovascular and renal systems and plays a part in relaxing ligaments and muscles.
    • Many women have reported changes to their posture, walking, mobility and general daily comfort levels.
  • Weight and weight distribution changes:
    • As the baby grows, the mother’s center of gravity changes.
    • Some women with physical disabilities:
      • Find their balance and ability to transfer from sitting to standing and from one position to another greatly affected.
      • Find they need the support of another person or equipment to assist them to transfer and walk.
      • Find that they need to use a wheelchair for the last months of their pregnancy. Following the birth of their baby, many women do not need to use the additional equipment or wheelchair.
  • Nutritional needs change:
    • Speak with your GP or dietitian if you need support to know what you need to eat and drink.
  • Energy level changes:
    • Many women experience increasing fatigue during their pregnancy.
    • For women with physical disabilities who may already be experiencing tiredness and difficulty moving, the fatigue can be greater.

Be monitored by your health team throughout your pregnancy

  • See your doctor and midwife for all recommended reviews.
  • See your therapy team regularly for timely support of your mobility needs, pain, discomfort and different ways to do activities.
  • See therapists in both the disability and women’s health fields for a team approach.
  • Physiotherapists can help you with the changes that occur and to manage common pregnancy problems using methods such as:
    • Water based therapy
    • Gentle exercise and movement
    • Targeted support for pain and discomfort
    • Finding different ways to do activities and
    • Fitness and muscle strengthening.
  • Physiotherapists and occupational therapists can recommend the best way for you to move around whether that is walking, using a wheelchair or hoist.
  • Occupational therapists and social workers can help you with supports and organize equipment that you will need during your pregnancy and to help you look after your baby.

Have a birth plan with an open mind

  • Women of all abilities express concern about their birth plan and chosen delivery method.
  • It is recommended that you regularly discuss the best options for you and your baby with your doctor and midwife.
  • Everyone’s needs and hopes are different and your doctor and midwife are best placed to help you know what is best for you.