There is very little known about pregnancy and disability and even less when you add exercise into the mix. But we do know that women with a disability are getting pregnant and these numbers will most likely continue to increase. This article will highlight some of the key points in pregnancy and disability and add in some exercise components that are known. However, it is always smart to check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
For the general population exercise during pregnancy can have many benefits. Strict guidelines have been established to lead pregnant women through safe and effective exercise programs. It is important to remember that as your body changes with the pregnancy so too might your exercise routine. Enjoy yourself and remember to always listen to your body, as you are exercising for two.
The International Encyclopedia of Rehabilitation states, “A woman with a disability may want to take her needs into account when planning for pregnancy, birth, and motherhood. Overall, it is a good idea that the woman become as healthy as possible prior to pregnancy such as stopping smoking, getting physically fit (as appropriate for her disability), and eating according to sound nutritional guidelines as they relate to her specific disability (e.g., women with spina bifida will need more folic acid than is recommended for other women, etc.)."
Another item to consider is the change in center of gravity as your body changes. This may require a new approach to transferring and the way that you sit in your chair or perform exercises. It was also noted in The Disabled Woman's Guide to Pregnancy and Birth (Rogers 2005), “ that if a disability symptom is the same as a pregnancy discomfort than the symptom could be exacerbated by the pregnancy.”