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.
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.