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How Cerebral Palsy Affects Pregnancy
If you have cerebral palsy and you are thinking about having your first child, there are probably many questions you might be asking yourself. I hope the following information will help you.
Will I have any problems getting pregnant?
Fertility is not affected by cerebral palsy.
What are the chances that my child will have cerebral palsy?
Research shows that a woman with cerebral palsy has the same chance of having a child with cerebral palsy as any other woman. CP has not been proven to be genetic.
If I am planning to get pregnant, is there anything that I need to do to prepare?
1) First, you need to talk to your family doctor and discuss any health issues you might have and your medications.
2) Next, find a good obstetrician and, if possible, one who has experience with cerebral palsy. You might want to make an appointment and talk about possible expectations for the pregnancy.
3) Start preparing your body with good nutritious food. Pregnancy is demanding on the body, so you need to be as healthy as possible. Stop smoking and drinking if those are your habits. Watch your weight carefully as the extra pounds of pregnancy affect mobility.
4) A regular exercise program is a good idea. Walking, light yoga, stretching and strengthening exercises will give your body a head start for the extra weight and pressure on bones, muscles and organs during your pregnancy.
5) Have a good support team. Your significant other, family and friends will be invaluable when the emotional changes associated with pregnancy become overwhelming.
Will I be able to continue with my current medications?
Medications can have an adverse effect on your child during pregnancy and if you should decide to breastfeed. Discuss this with your doctor. Pregnancy is a unique experience for each woman and some women with CP report increased muscle spasms. Medication may have to be taken if spasms need to be controlled. Be aware that some women with CP have decreased spasms.
Your obstetrician will also prescribe pre-natal vitamins and any other supplements as needed. Labs may be drawn throughout pregnancy to ensure your and your child’s health.
Will I be able to have a natural birth?
That is also an individual experience. The only difference with a CP mother is that contractions can cause severe spasms. Prenatal classes will help with positions and methods to decrease the pain. Anticipate that and educate yourself about birthing options.
If your CP restricts the position in which you are able to give birth, discuss the possibility of using a different bed or chair and also consider side-lying or reclining. Again, prepare for every scenario.
Last, enjoy this time in your life and the marvelous adventure you are about to encounter!
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