Pregnancy and Childbirth in Disabled and Able-Bodied Women

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Nowadays, the scientific revolution allows the discovery of many novel treatments for diseases and disabilities that previously hindered people from leading a comfortable lifestyle. Among these medical advancements might be various treatments for either infertility or problems pertaining to gestation. While many women are capable of conceiving a child without problems, women with disabilities might find it challenging. The challenges might vary in complexity, and the question is whether women with disabilities are capable of having an unproblematic experience and bypass possible threats, like able-bodied women. Thus, in pregnant patients (P), what is the impact of physical disabilities (I) on pregnancy and childbirth (O) compared with absence of disabilities during gestation (C) during a 9-month tracking period (T)?

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Pregnancy and Childbirth of Women without Disabilities

In the beginning, it is vital to clarify whether physically abled women can face problems during gestation and childbirth. So, in healthy pregnant women (P), what is the percentage of negative impacts (I) on pregnancy and childbirth (O) compared with disabled women (C) during a 9-month tracking period (T)? According to the Blue Cross Blue Shield report (2020), while 80% of women experience a successful gestation and have no problems with the delivery, the rate of complications is still rising. Perinatal difficulties increased by more than 16% between 2014 and 2018, while delivery difficulties increased by more than 14% (Blue Cross Blue Shield, 2020). Almost seven out of every 1,000 pregnant women faced both types of issues, representing a nearly 31% increase from 2014 (Blue Cross Blue Shield, 2020). Pregnancy complications were substantially more common among geriatric pregnancies.

However, while the rate of complications is rising, the complications themselves rarely pose any threat to either a child or a parent since they do not develop further. Among the most common complications for healthy pregnant women are urinary tract infections (UTI), hypertension, mental health problems, including sad mood or loss of interest, and anemia (Lowdermilk et al., 2019). Therefore, the complications can range from mild to discomforting and, if not managed, can harm the child and mother. As a result, it is of vital importance to consult professionals and monitor the conditions and the overall pregnancy process.

Pregnancy and Childbirth of Women with Disabilities

As for pregnant women with disabilities (P), what is the percentage of negative impacts (I) on pregnancy and childbirth (O) compared with healthy individuals (C) during a 9-month tracking period (T)? Individuals with physical disabilities are becoming more eager to conceive a child. According to a 2008 study of women with spinal cord injury (SCI), 44% sought pregnancy and 36% succeeded at conceiving after the trauma. Women with disabilities follow their goal to have children despite a scarcity of knowledge on the potential links of their impairing disorders with pregnancy and delivery accessible to them and their caregivers. While there is a growing number of studies on the connection between physical impairment and pregnancy, the possible concerns that women and their doctors might have to manage throughout pregnancy and delivery have not been well examined.

According to the research conducted by Long-Bellil et al. (2017), despite fears voiced by physicians, family and friends, and the women themselves, the interviewees’ pregnancies were successful, and women reported a very small effect of debilitating disorders on their pregnancies. The majority of women did not report great pain during gestation, and it was often impossible to determine if the discomfort was caused by the disability or was typical among pregnant women. Furthermore, women faced several anesthetic issues because of their debilitating diseases, past operations, and the clinician’s lack of expertise. Nevertheless, despite the difficulties they encountered throughout pregnancy and delivery, all participants were relieved to have given birth to their children. The majority believed that their pregnancy was a pleasant experience altogether. The children that were born full-term were typically healthy.

Therefore, women typically stated that debilitating conditions had a minor influence on their pregnancies and deliveries. The majority of women were pleased with the technique of delivery; however, some encountered difficulties during the childbirth process (Long-Bellil et al., 2017). The women discovered that meticulous planning ahead of time was beneficial in controlling the effect of their debilitating diseases. In certain situations, the engagement of doctors with disability-related knowledge was another element that contributed to a beneficial outcome. In comparison with healthy women, women with disabilities, therefore, experienced discomforts, though still delivering children without significant complications.

Hence, there is a mild effect of physical disabilities on pregnancy and childbirth compared with healthy individuals during a 9-month period. While 80% of women experience a pregnancy and delivery process without problems, complications are still present in some cases. For example, women can face such challenges as infections, hypertension, mental health issues, or anemia. Women with disabilities also can experience some challenges when it comes to gestation and childbirth. However, according to the studies, proper prenatal care and professional delivery can result in proper childbirth and almost unproblematic gestation. In some situations, women are reported to be unable to differentiate between the discomfort caused by the disability or pain common among pregnant women. Therefore, representatives of both groups can experience issues with conceiving and delivering, which can indicate that everything is strictly individual.

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Blue Cross Blue Shield. (2020). Trends in pregnancy and childbirth complications in the U.S. Web.

Long-Bellil, L., Mitra, M., Iezzoni, L. I., Smeltzer, S. C., & Smith, L. (2017). The impact of physical disability on pregnancy and childbirth. Journal of Women’s Health, 26(8), 878-885.

Lowdermilk, D. L., Cashion, M. C., Perry, S. E., Alden, K. R., & Olshansky, E. (2019). Maternity and women’s health care. Elsevier Health Sciences.