Delivery Complications for Mothers Who Suffer Spinal Cord Injuries

You have been talking about starting a family for months now, but since your accident, you’re not sure whether or not it’s a good idea. You’ve always wanted to have a child, but suffering a spinal cord injury (SCI) after an SUV plowed into your car last year has caused you some doubts. Being paralyzed from the waist down, you just don’t know if getting pregnant would be safe or fair for you and the baby.

What are your delivery risks? Will your baby be in danger? What could happen as a result of your SCI?

Potential Problems During Delivery Caused by SCIs

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), along with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 2,000 women of childbearing age in the United States have a spinal cord injury. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that of these 2,000 women, approximately 80 of them will become pregnant or give birth every year. However, due to the maternal spinal cord injury, these pregnancies have higher risks for complications throughout gestation—while the baby is developing—as well as during delivery.

The NIH has identified several types of complications that can occur during the onset of delivery, during delivery, as well as a significant period after the delivery. These complications include:

  • Autonomic hyperreflexia. A condition which causes normal stimuli to cause overreactions of the involuntary nervous system in SCI victims. These reactions from the stimulus of delivery can result in dangerously high blood pressure, muscle spasms, and changes in heart rate.
  • Premature labor. Preeclampsia usually resulting from common SCI high blood pressure, can cause the need for an early delivery or premature birth.
  • Pressure sores. As a result of bed rest needed for your SCI to help prevent preeclampsia, or other needs for your injury, pressure sores can form and become infected. Depending on the severity of the sores, movement and positioning for delivery can be difficult.
  • Abnormal presentation. Since an SCI can cause shifts in the pelvic bones and abnormal twists in the lower regions of the womb, your baby can get turned, flipped, or forced into an abnormal position for vaginal delivery. Abnormal presentations include breeched positions (butt first), vertex positions (sideways), and shoulder presentations (shoulder first).
  • Failure to progress. SCIs can cause the normal muscle spasms that encourage the baby to move toward the birth canal (contractions) to weaken. If the contractions aren’t powerful enough, or can’t be felt by damaged nerves, your baby can fail to move toward the canal and a natural delivery may be impossible.
  • Inability to feel contractions. Nerve damage can cause sensory paralysis of your contractive muscles. If you can’t feel the contractions, you may not be able to tell when you should help push your baby out, or when your baby is ready to be delivered.
  • Inability to properly push or guide the baby through the birth canal. Nerve damage can also keep you from being able to contract your muscles in order to push. If you can’t help push, a cesarean, or additional delivery assistance such as forceps or vacuums may be required.

Making Sure You Have the Necessary Care Before, During, and After Your Delivery

Although the decision to have a child after suffering a spinal cord injury may be more difficult than if you weren’t injured—it isn’t impossible. Hundreds of partial and complete paraplegic women have successfully carried and delivered children. Don’t allow your injury to destroy your dreams, hopes, and wishes for your future.

Afraid you can’t fight alone? Well, you don’t have to—we’re here to help! Monitoring, tests, and precautionary care can get extremely expensive, especially in addition to treatment and care for your injuries. Allow us to help you get the compensation you need from your accident, in order to fund your and your baby’s future. Call today to file your injury claim and begin working toward your family’s happily ever after.

Did you find this article interesting and helpful? Help us spread hope to other SCI victims wishing to start a family, by sharing this page with them via Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus. Let them know that although there are risks involved, as long as they’re aware of the potential complications, and take proper precautions to monitor the risks—they too, can look forward to being called “mom.” Click the media icons on this page to show your support and help others get the information they need to make their family’s decision.

 

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