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Pregnancy Risks for Spinal Cord Injury Victims

On Behalf of | Feb 12, 2012 | Spinal Cord Injuries

All of your life, you have wanted a large family. Your parents had four kids, your husband has five siblings, and before you were even married, you both decided that you wanted to have at least four children. Your master plan was to wait two years after the wedding, and then begin trying to get pregnant. As do most master plans—this didn’t work as you hoped. Instead, you were expecting almost exactly 10 months after you said “I, do.”

Although it was a little earlier than you’d expected, you were overjoyed. After three months, you had managed to collect all the toys, clothes, and diapers you could possibly need. Then the unthinkable happened. An SUV broadsided you on your way home from work, severing your spinal cord and causing you to miscarry. You were absolutely heartbroken.

After a year of rehabilitation, counseling, and treatments, you’ve finally managed to get your life back on track. However, since you’re now healthy enough to take care of yourself and begin starting anew, the thought of having a baby is now again at the forefront of your mind. 

Is it even possible? Can you still bear children? Or do you have to come to the realization that your lifelong dream will remain just that…a dream.

How Spinal Cord Injury Treatments and Complications Can Affect Your Pregnancy

A spinal cord injury (SCI) is an extremely difficult and taxing ailment. Depending on the severity of the injury, recovery can take years, if not a lifetime. However, just because you have a debilitating injury, it shouldn’t mean that you need to give up on your life’s goals and desires—this includes being a mother.

The Mayo Clinic estimates that every year, nearly 2,000 women of childbearing age suffer an SCI. Authorities used to claim that these women couldn’t have children, or that becoming pregnant would be too dangerous for their injured bodies. However, this isn’t necessarily true.

Even though you may have lost mobility or sensation from an SCI, your reproductive organs still work as they used to, and your body can physically sustain a pregnancy. However, due to certain fetal health risks associated with maternal SCI treatments, you’ll need special care and monitoring during your entire pregnancy to make sure everything progresses normally up until your delivery date.

Complications to Monitor Before Conception:

  • Medication issues. Certain types of SCI treatment medications can potentially cause birth defects; make sure your physician is aware of any and all medications you’re taking before you try to conceive, as well as throughout the pregnancy.
  • X-rays and internal exams. Radiological exams shouldn’t be performed during pregnancy, so make sure all of your follow-up appointments for your SCI care are up to date before you attempt to conceive.
  • Physical abnormalities. Some SCI victims experience unusual skeletal changes such as curved spines and fractures which could cause spacial problems in the womb. Make sure you discuss potential complications with your doctor early on.

Complications to Monitor During Pregnancy:

  • Fetal enlargement may affect diaphragm movement. This could diminish respiratory capacity and increase your chances for pneumonia.
  • Weight changes. Changes in weight can cause pressure ulcers.
  • Altered center of gravity. When a mother’s center of gravity is altered it can impair the healing of SCIs and pressure sores.
  • Increased pressure on the veins of your legs. The increased pressure can cause blood clots in your legs.
  • Increased nerve pain and discomfort. As the baby grows, the increased size can cause nerve pain and increased discomfort.
  • Likelihood of required bed rest. During many SCI pregnancies you may be required to stay on strict bed rest.

Preparing the Best Future for Your Family After an SCI

Your spinal cord injury doesn’t have to define your future. We know how difficult it is to live with a debilitating injury, and we want to make sure that your future is the best it can be. Call us today to see how we can help give you the legal advice, guidance, and direction you need after an SCI accident. Our vast experience and knowledge will help you get the support and justice you deserve to continue toward your dreams.

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