The Disabled Womans Guide to Pregnancy and Birth:

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Rogers has been involved in the advocacy of people with disabilities, especially women, for more than 30 years. She was honored as a Robert Wood Johnson Community Health Leader in and continues to provide training and technical assistance to disabled parents, prospective parents, and professionals around the world. This is Ms. Rogers' second book on the topic of pregnancy and disability. Read more Read less.

Pregnancy in Women with Disabilities

No customer reviews. Share your thoughts with other customers. Write a customer review. Discover the best of shopping and entertainment with Amazon Prime. Prime members enjoy FREE Delivery on millions of eligible domestic and international items, in addition to exclusive access to movies, TV shows, and more. Back to top. Get to Know Us. Every child reacts differently. That was their thought. That my child is like this because I am sitting in a wheelchair. At that time, and also now, that annoys me beyond any measure.

Despite the perceived lack of confidence in their parenting skills, all the interviewed women reported that they had been able to develop a well-functioning relationship with their children, even if they had to rely on professional assistance in childcare. For example, a woman with a mobility impairment receiving personal assistance told that while her child was having fun with the assistants on the playground, the child still urged the mother to join them. In practice, that is thank God not at all the case.

But still, she wants me to accompany her. So, it is not about the participation, but about watching — being present. Confidence in own abilities ultimately influences the actions and behavior of human beings and is as important a personal resource in dealing with everyday tasks for women with disabilities as for everyone else [ 20 , 21 ].

In contrast to the perceived lack of confidence in their abilities by others, the interviewed women were at first highly confident in their capabilities to manage pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood, particularly if the pregnancy was planned. It then also happened very fast, and we were joyful, and I was also sure that I could do it and that it was the right thing.

So, I was always confident, and I never had doubts.

The disabled woman's guide to pregnancy and birth

But from the physical point of view, it was difficult. I had imagined it would be a little bit easier. For some women, the bodily sensitivity that accompanies pregnancy sharpened their perceptions of their own physicality and represented an important resource for early bonding with the unborn child. Because you are feeling very much, and particularly as a practically blind woman, you have to rely more on your feelings than on other things. So, you are not that distracted. And I really felt very, very much at that time. Also, the bond to the child and how he was growing in me. And when he then started to move, these were beautiful moments to me.

Doubts and fears about their skills and competencies that originated from the social environment decisively influenced the self-efficacy of these women with disabilities. The perceived evaluation of their existing skills and resources potentially decreased their self-confidence in relation to motherhood. They are afraid, I am pregnant myself, me myself, I felt bad and I noticed: everybody was afraid.

And they also were … one noticed, they were unsure. They did not really have experience with a woman in a wheelchair. And then there was no epidural because the anesthetist was not there. And then, the heart rate of the baby declined during contractions. But then, when I noticed the decline of the heart rate, of course, fear for the child. I somehow felt relieved when they told me a cesarean would be performed. Occasionally, women with physical disabilities reacted with uncertainty to the physical changes that occurred during pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum, especially if they could not clearly evaluate and understand the occurring symptoms.

And I could not determine whether that was because of the urinary tract infection. Or if these were Braxton Hicks contractions. I had the feeling that I did not notice everything.

Meaning, I do not feel everything, and I wish I would have had an ultrasound unit at home, so that I … would have been able to check by myself. Health care professionals sometimes handled topics related to prenatal medicine insensitively. It is purest cynicism.

Me myself, I am disabled. I am not doing prenatal diagnosis. No way… And the way the child is, that's the way it is, right? And then he [the gynecologist] suggested something different, with the amniotic fluid, somehow piercing it. I'm not doing that, you know?

Regarding communication between women with disabilities and health care professionals mainly doctors, midwives and nursing staff , traces of fear, uncertainty and awkwardness became apparent. But all of them are scared.

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These uncertainties and fears were frequently based on lack of information and complicated communications and interactions in the care and support of women with disabilities. But I think a caressing hand or a little bit of something, everyone would appreciate during birth. Because you are basically already overburdened.

Resources | Lesley A. Tarasoff

Just inform. I cannot lift my feet there. I cannot bend my feet that much. This perceived aggravation of the interaction and communication between women with disabilities and health care professionals often resulted in the women feeling left alone and forsaken. And there, I just assumed that somebody would maybe tell me what was going to happen. Attentive listening and being asked questions by health care professionals seemed to unburden and support the women and was experienced as very helpful.

In contrast, ignorance and neglect of the concerns and needs of women with mobility or sensory impairments could lead to reduced support, as reported by the interviewed women. What do you have?

This is totally okay … is there anything we can pay attention to? Do you need anything?

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Can we provide any kind of help? Is there something that can be done? What or how the room is or where you are lying down now, what you are doing. So, I asked my mother and my friends to share their experiences.

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