Authors: Long-Bellil L, Mitra M, Iezzoni LI, Smeltzer SC, Smith L
J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2017 Jun 29;:
BACKGROUND: Women with physical disabilities increasingly aspire to become pregnant and bear children. Limited information about the potential interaction of their disabling conditions with pregnancy and childbirth exists to guide these women and their clinicians.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: The interview guide was created with questions on topics such as pregnancy complications and secondary conditions, the impact of prior surgeries, experiences with pain relief during labor, and the impact on women's independence and participation in life activities. Interviews were conducted by telephone with 25 women with physical disabilities. They were subsequently transcribed verbatim and analyzed by using Atlas TI.
RESULTS: Women generally reported a relatively modest impact of disabling conditions on their pregnancies. Most women were satisfied with the mode of delivery, but they experienced challenges during the labor and delivery process. The women found that careful advanced planning was helpful in managing the impact of their disabling conditions. The involvement of clinicians with disability-related expertise was, in some cases, another factor that contributed to a positive outcome.
CONCLUSIONS: The importance of advanced planning and the utility of involving clinicians with disability-related expertise suggest that the use of integrated, interdisciplinary team approaches could promote quality care by facilitating improved planning and management. Additional clinical research is needed to provide women and their clinicians with more information on potential complications and options for labor and delivery.