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Where can I find advice on getting through pregnancy with a physical disability?
Q: When I was 22 I was hit by a car and lost both legs below the knee. I use artificial legs instead of a wheelchair. Are you aware of any material that could help guide me through my pregnancy? I am 17 weeks along. Also, are there any special risk factors with being disabled and pregnant?
A: Your disability poses no risk to your baby’s well-being. However, there are some considerations for your own health. It is important for you to keep active during pregnancy and to exercise regularly. As your baby grows, you will be gaining weight, shifting your centre of gravity and retaining water. This will affect your sense of balance and can affect your ease of movement.

Some women find their prostheses need adjustment or modification during pregnancy to accommodate for weight gain and fluid retention. You should plan to visit your prosthetist early in pregnancy and monthly during the second half of pregnancy to ensure proper fit and comfort of your prostheses. (Some women amputees find a wheelchair helpful in the last weeks of pregnancy, particularly if they cannot achieve proper fit of their prostheses.)

You also should work with a labor coach to practice labor positions ahead of time, allowing you to find the most comfortable positions for labor and delivery. This will also let you judge whether it will be more comfortable to remove your prostheses during the pushing stage of labor.

As far as resources go, refer to the following websites:

http://www.amputee-coalition.org/inmotion/sep_oct_03/baby.html
http://nursing.villanova.edu/WomenWithDisabilities/preg/Pregnancy1.htm

Best wishes for a healthy and joyful pregnancy!

Laura E. Stachel M.D. Obstetrician & Gynecologist