Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Pregnant with Disabilities: An Update

I’m now entering my 35th week of pregnancy. I’ve seen obstetricians and an anesthetist, and of course my midwife. Thanks to the extra care I’ve been receiving everything is going well. For a recap of why I need extra care please see this post. 

I won’t lie, it’s getting really difficult now. I’m incredibly uncomfortable, sleeping is hard and my pain is increasing. The mobility I did have is greatly reduced. However, I’m still coping okay. This is in large part thanks to the support I’m currently receiving from the NHS and previous support for chronic pain. My husband and family are also brilliant. I wouldn’t be managing as well without them.

So, the medical stuff. I’ve continued to take medication throughout my pregnancy for pain and IBS. Baby’s growth hasn’t been affected by this. Of course I still worry that it may affect baby after birth but I have been reassured that the medication I’ve been taking is safe throughout pregnancy when it comes to deformities (nothing was picked up on the scans either) etc. The older the medication the better. It’s notoriously difficult to carry out large scale studies of medication on pregnant women, so information gathered over years and years often provide doctors with a better idea of how medication will affect mother and child. Dihydrocodeine (which I take) is thankfully an old drug. Like other Opioids, it’s known to cross the placenta and can cause respiratory problems in baby after birth. I’ve managed to cut my dose right down and the doctors aren’t concerned about the level I’m on. However, if you need to take a bigger dose than me, you and baby will be closely monitored. So please don’t freak out in case you think you can’t manage a reduced dosage. 

I have several options available to me for birth. If my pain and discomfort becomes too unbearable I may be induced. Depending on you’re own disability this may be the desired option for you. Again, the pros and cons will be weighed up and discussed by you and your medical team. Due to my spinal damage I won’t be able to get an epidural, but to be honest I wasn’t that bothered about getting one (oh God, I’m sure I’ll regret these words). There is a range of other pain relief options available to me though. I discussed this with an anesthetist who really put me at ease and made sure I was aware of all possible circumstances; including an emergency Caesarean. Thankfully, there shouldn’t be a problem doing a spinal block on me. I just hope the need doesn’t arise!  

Any worries that I had previous to pregnancy have been allayed by the amazing treatment I’ve been receiving. If you are considering becoming pregnant but your disability is worrying you I highly recommend you ask your GP to refer you to an obstetrician. In my experience I’ve found that they’re the ones that really know about medication. I was given some bad advice from a midwife I saw early in my pregnancy which scared the shit out of me. I think it was mainly due to her own inexperience or indeed her ideology. I spoke about the issue (breastfeeding and medication) with the obstetrician and she wasn’t concerned at all about it. 

I’ll try and update after the birth. But at the moment I don’t have any concerns with the actual labour, well besides the obvious stuff! I should say I don’t have any concerns that my disability will make labour anymore difficult. So, all I have to do now is try to relax and wait.

If you have any questions about my experience or want to ask something I may have left out please feel free to contact me. I’m not easily embarrassed. 


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