Challenges Faced by Pregnant Disabled Women

Pregnancy is a challenging time for any mother. There are certain challenges that disabled mothers-to-be face that are not faced by the general population of mothers. Here is a list of some of the most common challenge: depending upon the physical disability. Some of these you might have expected, however, look at the biggest challenge. It may surprise you.

Certainly there are physical challenges and discomforts. People with spinal chord issues might have a difficult time with the extra weight

On their back and bladder. People who have a difficult time walking will experience even more difficulty. Blood pressure might rise, ankles and other parts of the body might swell and if someone has poor circulation, pregnancy might exacerbate the issue. Some mothers experience an increase in incontinence. It might be essential to wear depends or other diapering products. A diabetic who is also pregnant should take special precautions with their diet. All of these challenges can be discussed with a doctor. Doctors are pros at addressing the physical challenges that are associated with pregnancy.

When I was pregnant, some of the birthing material was in print only. I could not see my child’s ultrasound. It sure would have been helpful if someone would have assisted me in filling out all of those rebates and exclusive offers, as well as helped me clip baby coupons. Deaf women might need an interpreter when dealing with hospital staff.

Far worse than the physical challenges are the social and public pressures that are put on the disabled. Most of the time, the public responds positively to pregnant women. They smile and fondly remember their prenatal days. Able-bodied people hear comments such as: It is such a miracle to give life. Congratulations on the most meaningful part of your life. There is nothing more important than being a mother. Disabled people do not receive the same type of responses. These responses range from apathy to disgust. Many feel that it is their right to voice their opinions directly to the disabled person, as well as to their spouse and other family members.

The apathetic person uses the veil of concern to predict the poor quality of life for the child because the mother can’t even care for themselves, much less an innocent helpless infant. I have had well meaning Good Christian people openly voice this exact sentiment. Strangely enough, I have experienced this same situation with all four of my children. I forgave them for their ignorance and lack of support with the first child. However, by the time I had my fourth, common sense should have prevailed.

The people who respond in disgust will act as if by getting pregnant, the disabled person has just committed the most unforgivable irresponsible act. They assume that we didn’t exactly understand the mechanics of reproduction, or that we were so driven by our animalistic urge to copulate that we had no thought of the consequences. They give their unsolicited advice concerning contraception, termination options, adoption agencies and spiritual guidance. The advice about contraception is a bit less than punctual. Usually, this is true with the liberal dialog concerning termination options, as well. Since it is usually Christianity, where these advisers are encouraging me to turn spiritually, I suggest that they might benefit from some Biblical teaching. After all, they must have forgotten that I am obeying the command to be fruitful and multiply.

These people want to get into a discussion with you about the future of your child. You can’t win, so it is best to avoid the discussion. Ultimately, they are afraid that the child will be disabled. Thus, you are bringing more pitiful disabled creatures into the world. It is not fair, they chide, for you to burden your child with the same disability that you suffer from. Of course, they are presupposing that they know more about this particular suffering than even you do. And, if your child will be able-bodied, then, you have saddled him/her with a disabled parent. It is best, they counsel, to give your child a normal life with a normal family. This is where the generous advice about adoption comes in. Thus, either way, disabled people should not have children.

These people were not family or friends. They were strangers. And, honestly, it is not only the public. when I had my fourth child, the doctor called my parents privately and made her valiant attempt to have me sterilized. I had to go to this doctor due to insurance reasons. The doctor would never let me come to her office alone and when she said, alone, she meant without an able-bodied person. Doctors rarely listen to the pregnant mother. My friend who is also disabled said that she had to fight diligently for a natural birth. If it was not for her able-bodied husband and family, she doubts that she would have gotten anywhere. The public still treats disabled people like children, themselves. Thus, it is difficult to see them in motherly roles.

Sure, the disabled mother has questions. But, she is too afraid to ask them. She is fearful that her questions will elicit an even more concerned friend or doctor. She would love to talk with someone who understands and can encourage her. She knows that most people are either uncomfortable with her pregnancy, so are reluctant to talk to her or they just don’t have any answers. So, she keeps her fears inside and just attempts to do her best by picking up knowledge from books.

Thus, the most difficult challenge that physically disabled women face when they are pregnant is those perpetuated by society. When your hormones are racing, you just want support and to feel like every pregnant woman. It is frustrating to see other pregnant women receive the smiles and good wishes while we receive the stares and admonishments. We feel even more rejected and without a supportive family system, it would be easy to develop a deep depression.

You can help by understanding that the disabled woman who is pregnant is quite similar to the able-bodied pregnant woman. She deserves all of the excited talk and expressions of encouragement, just as her able-bodied peers. Most likely, she has thought about many of the challenges and probably has found others who will help her overcome them. Make it a happy time for mother and baby.

www.thelookingglass.org