If you have limited mobility, the prospect of parenting may seem impossible, or at the very least, challenging.
In fact, women with spinal cord injuries are capable of having babies and more than capable of raising children. Provided there is no medical barrier to conception and pregnancy, there’s no reason why the challenges of motherhood can’t be faced with the same skills you already apply in overcoming the obstacles of everyday life: planning, organisation, a positive attitude and sheer determination!
Pregnancy with Paralysis
There’s no getting around it, pregnancy with paralysis is likely to be regarded by medical professionals as high-risk and will probably require careful monitoring.
In addition to monitoring the development and health of your baby, your treating physicians will be paying special attention to your health throughout the term of your pregnancy.
Everyone’s case is different, so it’s best not to speculate whether you will have a natural birth or one requiring medical intervention – that’s a discussion for you to have with your doctor. But that doesn’t mean everything is out of your control.
Most hospitals encourage you to have a birth plan, which prompts you to think about who you would like to be present at the birth of your baby, any special arrangements you would like in place following the birth, and whether you intend to breastfeed.
Preparing for Your New Baby
Nesting is fun, which is just as well, because it’s a natural instinct that kicks in around five months into your pregnancy, which is almost impossible to resist!
Things you might like to consider in preparing your home are:
- will your baby sleep in a cot, a basinet next to your bed or in an in-bed baby sleeper next to you?
- will you be feeding your baby lying down in bed or sitting up? Are the armrests of your wheelchair comfortable for feeding, or will you use a different chair?
- where will you bathe and dress your baby? Some mothers with paralysis find it’s easier to sponge bath and dress their baby on a waterproof pad on the bed.
At Home with Your Baby
While you’re probably used to being as independent as possible, now is not the time to refuse help. All new mothers find the combination of sleep deprivation, being on-call to a little person 24/7, and the hormonal and physical changes following birth challenging.
Accept all and any offers of help and take any opportunity you can to attend to your own needs, get some rest and take the occasional moment to yourself.
As Your Child Grows
One thing parents with paralysis say is that their children are much more accepting of their disability than most adults. However, at some stage, your child will probably want to understand more about your condition. It’s important to be open and to try to explain your paralysis in an age appropriate way. One mother explained her spinal cord injury to her two-year-old using an analogy between her injury and a television cord being disconnected.
While there are sure to be challenges, the majority of parents with paralysis, or any parent for that matter, will tell you that the rewards outweigh the challenges. Having kids is a great reason to take good care of yourself too!
If you’d like to find out if you’re doing all you can to improve your quality of life and make living with a disability easier, contact Power Mobility, and talk to one of our friendly, experienced team members today on 07 3073 4806.