Frequently Asked Questions about my Experience with Spastic Cerebral Palsy and Pregnancy
Could the spastic or athetoid movements bring on preterm labor?
|Ginni and Edward at home|
Did I use a walker or cane when pregnant?
No, I did not use a walker or a cane during my pregnancy. My center of gravity was never really an issue during my pregnancies. With my second one, I did ask for a hand (assistance) at times when getting up from sitting or if something was in my way. Also if I was tense I would ask for a hand, but just as preventive measures to ensure my baby's safety.
Am I capable of bearing and raising children?
Someone asked my pastor this when I got pregnant with my first child. I would not have tried to get pregnant if I didn't think I could handle the pregnancy and care for my children. In my case, CP is a physical disorder. I was in physical shape for my pregnancies and was confident my body could endure it. My intellect is intact, and I knew I was capable and responsible enough to raise a family. In my case, I will never let my CP hinder the care of my children.
Can having CP and caring for two young children be overwhelming?
Yes, at times. CP or not, a mother of two small children may be overwhelmed. There are times when I cannot seem to do tasks fast enough for my own satisfaction, which really bothered me when I had Sarah, my first child. Now, I have accepted that, yes, I do things a little slower than others. With two children, I prioritize tasks and I know what other tasks ahead will be waiting for me. If I have to change a diaper and Sarah needs something, I let Sarah know that I will be with her as soon as I am finished changing Edward's diaper. I always make sure Sarah knows that I have heard her and will be with her as soon as I can. My husband, Kevin, often reminds me I cannot do two things at once. He tells me to take care of one thing and then the other.
Is it necessary to exercise during pregnancy while having spastic CP?
From my experience, it is. Exercising, pregnant or not, increases the range of motion and flexibility one may have. Exercising will always be part of my life, whether it be walking or lifting weights. Weight machines help me strengthen my muscles, but also seem to give my muscles a good stretch. I recommend to always have stretching as part of your exercise routine. Exercising 3 times a week (for 1 to 2 hours) keeps me pretty limber.
Do people with CP have the right to bear children?
Of course they do! From my viewpoint, CP is only one part of who I am and is only a physical issue. My CP is a mild case and throughout my life I've known what my body can and cannot do. People with CP know their bodies well enough to make such a decision on whether or not their body could endure pregnancy. The second thing to consider is if you can care for a newborn, infant, and toddler. I, myself, would not have gotten pregnant if I thought I couldn't care for and be responsible for a baby.
Do you have suggestions for women who have a physical disability and want to become pregnant?
First of all, anyone, CP or not, considering pregnancy should have a rock-solid foundation between you and your partner to ensure the best upbringing for your child. Exercising is a must in my book! Exercising to tone, strengthen, and help improve range of motion and flexibility is definitely a benefiting factor when considering pregnancy and during pregnancy. It is always good to know yourself and to know you can and will give the best life to your child. Your physical disability is just that . . . . a physical disability. Your disability certainly does not affect the care and love you will give your baby. Some people may not understand my response to that - prove them wrong!
Did my doctor increase monitoring of my pregnancy due to my CP?
No. My pregnancies were high-risk due to my diabetes, not my CP. I understood that I would have more doctor visits and because of that, I was able to see my babies grow in-utero more than a woman who did not have any health issues. But I considered that a plus that goes with having a high-risk pregnancy! At the end of my pregnancies, like many other women, I would go in for weekly ultrasounds and weekly non-stress tests. These were to be sure the baby was growing like it should and that the baby's environment was safe and healthy. They made sure the placenta was doing its job and the amniotic fluids were in the normal ranges.
How does my CP affect my daily living with two children?
My CP affects my daily living in a variety of ways. Due to minor finger dexterity issues, snapping and buttoning my children's clothing can take some time. This is especially true when Sarah or Edward is moving in all different directions! I do have a button hook that makes it quicker for me to button when I am in a hurry. Here is a link to show you what I use (http://www.nextag.com/button-hook/search-html). The problems I have with my finger dexterity present themselves again when I am putting Sarah's hair in a ponytail, so most of the time I use barrettes.
I always ensure my children's safety, as well as mine. I always make sure my walkway is clear and if there is something in the way, I move it or ask it to be moved before carrying my children through that path.
When putting my youngest child in the jumper, I have to use a wide lower body stance in order to get him safely in and out of it. Another example is when my muscles are tight and I have to go outside, I always put Edward in a stroller. This assures me of his safety. If I go to the store or to church and Edward is in the car seat, it is less awkward for me if I carry him with my hands at each end of it as opposed to placing both hands on the handle. I make sure I do not have to walk too far to our van to get him in or out and if I am going to the store, I make sure to park next to a space where they have the carts stored. That way I can just take the keys with me and leave the door open to come back and get him since I only have to walk a few steps to get the cart. These are some ways that I work with my CP to raise little children.