(Originally published in 1995; updated in 2009)
In 2008, the Discovery Channel aired a documentary “Paralyzed and Pregnant,” the story of Michelle Carston, a C5 quad who delivered a healthy son, Pierce, after a difficult pregnancy. Carston spent eight and a half months on bed rest, so many potential moms with spinal cord injuries wondered: Is this the norm?
Although there are possible complications, some quite serious, many women with disabilities have relatively uneventful pregnancies. The most important thing is to find a doctor who knows about SCI.
“The medical profession is one of extremes,” says one physiatrist. “Some doctors are very knowledgeable about pregnancy and spinal cord injury, whereas others have never met a disabled person. Women must be well-taught themselves,” he emphasizes. “Then they should choose a doctor and pay close attention to whether he is really listening to them. If he’s not, go somewhere else.”
Bladder: Urinary infections usually increase during pregnancy as the growing fetus presses on the bladder, urinary tract and/or catheter. The problem is that most antibiotics pose some danger to the fetus. Deborah Soliz, C4-5, says her urologist twice prescribed medications that her obstetrician nixed. “Instead, they gave me drugs that kept the infection at a low roar until I delivered.”
The National Task Force on Sexuality and Disability has generated a list of some of the antibiotics to be avoided during pregnancy, which includes aminoglycosides, erythromycin, nitrofurantoin, chloramphenicol, sulfonamides and tetracycline. Some women report success with preventive measures — drinking large quantities of cranberry juice, for instance — but if you do get an infection, check all prescriptions with your obstetrician.
The limits on antibiotics increase the severity of infections, which, in turn, increases the incidence of dysreflexia for quads and paras T6 and above. Full-blown dysreflexia is not common during gestation, but most women report some symptoms at some times. Any dysreflexia, howe