Taking it into account: caring for disabled mothers during pregnancy and birth
BACKGROUND: Although more disabled women are pursuing motherhood over time, little is known about their needs and experiences in achieving this goal. METHODS: A 3-phase study was designed with the aim of identifying ways for services to be more responsive for women living with physical or sensory impairment during and after pregnancy. This article draws on the qualitative phases of a 3-part mixed method study, which involved individual and focus group interviews with the women and maternity and child health practitioners. RESULTS: Sixty-two mothers with either a physical or a sensory impairment and 28 health practitioners participated in the study. Three themes were identified in relation to the current approaches to service provision: that the women were often responsible for educating the practitioners about their impairment, that they often encountered disabling environments, and that it was not uncommon for them to also encounter disabling attitudes from others. Strategies suggested by our participants to improve the provision of maternity services were for women’s impairments to be taken into account in the structure and process of service provision and for practitioners to problem solve and think ahead of how to meet the needs of disabled mothers. CONCLUSION: The need to take the woman’s impairment into account was an overarching issue and strategy identified by both women and practitioners. This consideration has relevance not only at the practitioner–women interaction level but also for educational, structural service provision and policy levels.