Being a mother or father as a wheelchair user
Women with a spinal cord injury are just as capable of having a child of their own as able-bodied women. Men’s fertility is frequently impaired by a spinal cord injury. As described in the previous chapters, there are still medical possibilities to help you realise your wish to have a child.
Therefore, from a medical perspective, there is nothing to say that you cannot become a mother or a father. However, there are a few obstacles.
If a couple decide to have children, they frequently have to take additional steps, such as IVF, in order to realise this wish. This is generally done at great expense to themselves. The cost of IVF is not covered by health insurance providers in Switzerland. However, they can submit an application to the Swiss Paraplegic Foundation. It is important to become well informed beforehand about your own possibilities.
Women with gainful employment have a legal entitlement to maternity leave. They also have the same rights as any other women. You should also become well informed if you are in receipt of a disability pension. The decisive thing here is the level of daily allowance or the maternity benefit calculated from the last salary. You also have to consider whether additional resources have to be used for childcare, or whether you need to acquire additional aid. You will also have to pay for some of these costs yourself.
If a woman with spinal paralysis becomes pregnant, the standard preliminary examinations should also be carried out. Particular attention may have to be given to additional factors such as taking medication, preventing thromboses, etc. Therefore, it is advisable for your gynaecologist to contact your paraplegiology staff. The midwife should also be contacted early so that she can adapt to the specific needs of a woman with a spinal cord injury; after all, this is not an everyday situation.
It cannot be assumed that the gynaecologist or the midwife have experience with women with spinal cord injuries. Therefore, the women affected must be well informed and must know what they want and need. It may help to share experiences with like-minded people.
There are no standard solutions for the aids that are required. The needs are very different. The best thing for people to do is to research this online or to ask experienced wheelchair-bound mothers or fathers about suitable solutions. For example, how to furnish the infant’s bedroom or how high the changing table should be.
There may be a variety of possibilities just for transporting the child. As with many other everyday issues, the rule here is to try different things out and to be creative. There is no such thing as the right solution, only many different ones. Talking about this with other people in the same position can be very helpful.