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Pregnancy and Child Care as Wheelchair User

I'm having a baby – what should I do?

Women with spinal cord injury wish to have children just as much as women without disabilities do. However, a pregnancy raises many additional questions: Is there anything special I have to bear in mind during my pregnancy being a paraplegic woman? How can I take care of my child as independently as possible? Are there any tools that make life with a baby easier for me?
The following websites, books and documents can provide answers to these questions. Furthermore, brief Youtube videos show tricks that paraplegic women have come up with in order to take care of their child as independently as possible.

Forums and websites

http://www.lewu.de/ (in German)
(last visited on October 01, 2014)
Informative website including a forum for women with disabilities and chronic diseases focusing on topics such as partnership, sexuality, desire to have children, pregnancy, child birth and life with children.

http://www.disabledparents.net/ (in English)
(last visited on October 01, 2014)
Informative website for impaired parents providing recommendations concerning books and professional articles.

http://www.apparelyzed.com/forums/forum/29-parents-in-wheelchairs/ (in English)
(last visited on October 01, 2014)
Forum on the issue of „parents in a wheelchair“.

http://www.rolli-wegweiser.at/rww/1020.html
(in German)
(last visited on October 01, 2014)
Two mothers with spinal cord injury talking about their pregnancies. The website also provides information concerning the subject of fatherhood.

http://www.elternclubschweiz.ch/artikel/eltern-mit-behinderung (in German)
(last visited on October 01, 2014)
Three impaired mothers (hearing impairment, visual impairment and multiple sclerosis) report about their family lives.

http://www.myhandicap.ch/familie-kinder-ch.html (in German)
(last visited on October 01, 2014)
Informative website on issues such as handicapped mothers/fathers, pregnancy of women with spinal cord injury and sexuality.

Videos

Ali puts a Baby in the front car
Uploaded by parentsinwheelchairs on August 15, 2011
Downloaded from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HjxcK_L4MFw&feature=plcp
(last visited on October 01, 2014)

Ali shows us the adapted cot they used for Sarah
Uploaded by parentsinwheelchairs on April 14, 2011
Downloaded from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=usEWK7Dir2I
(last visited on October 01, 2014)

Ali shows us the changing table she used
Uploaded by parentsinwheelchairs on April 14, 2011
Downloaded from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hy3pbE0RV1A&¬feature=context-cha
(last visited on October 01, 2014)

Bernie puts Jasper in the car
Uploaded by Bernadette Nolan on October 26, 2011
Downloaded from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GlqyUBNl3ng
(last visited on October 01, 2014)

Jasper's Power Cot

Uploaded by Bernadette Nolan on November 4, 2011
Downloaded from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjp7gxqVfRE
(last visited on October 01, 2014)

Picking Jasper Up

Uploaded by Bernadette Nolan on October 26, 2011
Downloaded from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9TIu48Y8-k
(last visited on August 13, 2013)

Picking up Jasper (10 months old)

Uploaded by Bernadette Nolan on May 5, 2012
Downloaded from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3HkxdA9LCx4
(last visited on October 01, 2014)

Jasper has a shower

Uploaded by Bernadette Nolan on May 11, 2012
Downloaded from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3ud0dj3Z8E
(last visited on October 01, 2014)

Mutter auf Rädern – Ein Jahr mit Edith Hunkeler und ihrer Tochter Elin (Mother on wheels – One year with Edith Hunkeler and her daughter Elin)
(in German)
Uploaded by „Swiss Radio and Television“ (SRF), Title of the show „Reporter“ broadcast: November 6, 2011
Downloaded from http://www.srf.ch/player/tv/reporter/video/mutter-auf-raedern-ein-jahr-mit-edith-hunkeler-und-ihrer-...
(last visited on October 01, 2014)

Books & documents

The Disabled Woman's Guide to Pregnancy and Birth
Rogers, J. (2006). Demos Medical Publishing: New York
Practical guide on pregnancy and birth for disabled women based on the experiences of 90 affected women.

The Baby Challenge – A handbook on pregnancy for women with a physical disability
Campion, M.J. (1990). Routledge: London
Informative manual for women with physical disabilities in order to prepare for motherhood.

Sexuality After Spinal Cord Injury: Answers to Your Questions
Ducharme, S.H. & Gill, K.M. (1996). Brookes Publishing Co.
Questionnaire discussing subjects such as sexuality, fertility, contraception and sexually-transmitted diseases. Including a basic introduction.

Spinal Cord Injury and the Family: A new guide
Alpert, M.J. & Wisnia, S. (2008). Harvard University Press: Cambridge, Massachusetts
Including chapters addressing the issues of “Fertility and Pregnancy", “Parenting with SCI" and a variety of other issues concerning SCI.

Past Due: A Story of Disability, Pregnancy, and Birth
Finger, A. (1990). Seal Press (CA)
Touching report of a woman who caught polio as a child. About parental love and the right of disabled people to have a child.

Zur Situation körperbehinderter Frauen – Sexualität, Partnerschaft, Mutterschaft [Thesis, German] Kück, B. (2005)
(ISBN 978-3638444200)
This thesis wants to elucidate the situation of women with a disability, especially with regard to topics like sexuality, relationships and motherhood.

Mutterglück trotz körperlicher Behinderung – beschrieben am Beispiel der Querschnittslähmung [Thesis, German] Bachmann, A. & Loosli, B. (2002)
(Last visited on October 01, 2014)
A shortened version of the thesis was published in the „Hebammenzeitschrift“ and can be downloaded for free: http://www.hebamme.ch/x_data/heft_pdf/2004-02-04.pdf

Sexuality and Reproductive Health in Adults with Spinal Cord Injury: What You Should Know – A Guide for People with Spinal Cord Injury
Paralyzed Veterans of America (2011)
Downloaded from http://www.pva.org/atf/cf/%7BCA2A0FFB-6859-4BC1-BC96-6B57F57F0391%7D/WHAT%20YOU%20SHOULD%20KNOW.PDF
(last visited on October 01, 2014)
For people with spinal cord injury. Informative guide about sexuality of men and women with SCI. Also deals with the issues of pregnancy and birth.

Sexuality and Reproductive Health in Adults with Spinal Cord Injury: A Clinical Practice Guideline for Health-Care Professionals
Paralyzed Veterans of America (2010). The Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine, 33(3), 281-336
For healthcare professionals working in the field of SCI. A guide that seeks to inform, sensitize and open up our society for the subject of sexuality.

Pregnancy Complicated by Maternal Paraplegia or Tetraplegia as a Result of Spinal Cord Injury and Spina Bifida
Demasio, K. & Margriples, U. (1999). Sexuality and Disability, 17(3), 223-32
Provides information about possible complications before, during and after giving birth by women with SCI.

About the author:

  • Christa Schwager is a specialist in movement science in the Department for Nursing Development and Education at the Swiss Paraplegic Centre in Nottwil/Switzerland, where she has worked since 1994. She is co-author of the key publications in the field of spinal cord injury "Paraplegie. Ganzheitliche Rehabilitation" (eds. Guido A. Zäch & Hans Georg Koch) and "Pflege von Menschen mit Querschnittlähmung" (ed. Ute Haas).


updated: October 2014

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