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Can quadriplegic woman get pregnant

After the trailers for Me Before You started airing on TV, some disability rights activists began to speak out in protest. One of the many problems people have pointed out about the film is that the main character Will, who became a quadriplegic after a motorcycle accident, assumes that having a fulfilling sex life is not possible for someone with his type of physical disability. It's a very common misconception, Mitchell Tepper, Ph. But while feeling sexual pleasure again after a spinal cord injury isn't easy, and for some takes years or decades , it is indeed possible for many quadriplegics. Tepper speaks from a place of both clinical and personal experience—he broke his neck over 30 years ago and has since been paralyzed from the neck down though he still has some sensation, and is considered an "incomplete quad".

SEE VIDEO BY TOPIC: Women with Spinal Cord Injury: Pregnancy, Labor and Delivery

Fertility After SCI

As each of her children grew inside her womb, Joni Vanderwoude felt nothing — not the fluttering first kicks in the beginning, not the bulging of her belly as it stretched to the size of a basketball, not the piercing contractions of labor that usually signal it's time.

A car accident 16 years ago left Vanderwoude paralyzed from the neck down, unable to walk, cough or even scratch her own nose without someone to do what her own body could not.

But Vanderwoude, of DeMotte, Ind. Two years after the accident, she married her high school sweetheart. Four years after that they began trying to have children — a medical possibility for most women who suffer from spinal cord injury, despite what people might assume.

Today, Vanderwoude, 36, is the proud mother of three healthy children whom she conceived with her husband and delivered: 6-year-old Jacqueline, who covers the kitchen counter with Legos; 2-year-old Ryleigh, who performs somersaults in the living room; and 6-week-old Zachary, who spends most of his days sleeping on his mother's chest in a baby carrier fastened to the back of her wheelchair.

Pregnancy for women with paralysis is still uncommon. Vanderwoude, who delivered her children at Northwestern Memorial's Prentice Women's Hospital, is the only mother with quadriplegia her doctor has treated in the last decade. Carrying babies in a paralyzed woman's already challenged body comes with risks, including dangerous blood clots and high blood pressure.

But doctors and spinal cord injury researchers say Vanderwoude is an inspiring example of how advances in fetal medicine, adaptive technology — such as strollers designed to be pushed by someone in a wheelchair — and online support from social media and websites have made it possible for more women with paralysis to enjoy the beauty of motherhood, which often calls on women to draw on strength they might not realize they have.

When a person suffers a spinal cord injury, the communication pathway from the brain to the muscles is interrupted, causing paralysis. Vanderwoude was 20 years old and on her way to play piano at a church service when her car left the road and crashed into a drainage ditch in her rural Indiana hometown , 60 miles southeast of Chicago. She wasn't wearing a seat belt and was thrown from the car, causing her neck to break in two places, she said.

Doctors told her family and then-fiance Jason Vanderwoude that if she survived the first 72 hours, she would be paralyzed from the neck down. She could no longer kick a soccer ball, attend college or play piano for hours as she had loved to do before the accident. During the next two years, through extensive rehabilitation, she gained back some use of her biceps, as well as minimal movement in her right wrist.

But the progress stopped there. Today, without feeling or use of her limbs and core muscles, another person must turn her over at night so she doesn't get bedsores. When she wakes up, she needs help with a two-hour process that includes helping her shower, changing her catheter bag, brushing her teeth and changing clothes. Three days a week, Joni Vanderwoude gets assistance from aides funded by Medicaid. The rest of the week, the wheelchair-accessible house Jason Vanderwoude designed and built mostly himself bustles with activity as volunteers from the Vanderwoudes' church, Joni's parents — who live on the same property — and other family members take turns helping.

Joni and Jason Vanderwoude, who consider themselves deeply religious people, say they are blessed to have so much support, and that Joni is still able to talk and laugh with family. In time, she learned to operate a motorized wheelchair and draw with the help of a special writing tool. Today, using special tools, she can mix brownies, fold the laundry and feed herself a bowl of orange slices with flicks of her wrist.

She has learned to rely on helpers or her older children for tasks such as changing diapers or popping a pacifier back in the baby's mouth. She's able to feed the baby every two hours — even through the night — with her breast milk. Sometimes, her husband or an aide positions Zachary on her lap to breast-feed directly.

Other times, the helpers hook up Vanderwoude to a breast pump. Everything I do, someone's got to be my hands and feet," said Vanderwoude, who credits her husband, kids and family with being unwavering in their support. That's one of the hardest things.

But she takes it with a grain of salt. It's life — and here we are. The Vanderwoudes allowed themselves four years after their wedding for Jason, an insurance salesman, to master caregiving responsibilities, from pounding on his wife's back to simulate coughing, to learning how to quickly retrieve an eyelash from his wife's blue eyes.

In , the couple decided it was time to follow through on their plans to have a family — and doctors assured them it was possible. LaTasha Nelson, who delivered two of the Vanderwoude children as part of the maternal fetal medicine practice at Prentice Women's Hospital.

The couple were pleasantly surprised when doctors told them they should be able to conceive a child through sexual intercourse, which, with good humor and a lot of experimentation, the couple had been practicing. Women with quadriplegia and paraplegia continue to ovulate and menstruate monthly, even though they don't feel it and need assistance in managing the periods.

When a woman becomes pregnant, hormones allow the uterine lining to build up so it can accept the pregnancy, a process that has no connection to a woman's muscle ability or lack thereof, Nelson said. Don't get me wrong, there's days it just plain stinks, where it's hard not to go, 'Why did this happen? It's life - and here we are.

After 10 weeks, the placenta gets nutrients to the baby from the mother's supply. People with paralysis are prone to high blood pressure, because damaged nervous systems can't regulate as they should. They also are susceptible to blood clots, because idle bodies allow blood to settle, sometimes in dangerous places. So patients like Vanderwoude are monitored closely by fetal medicine specialists during pregnancy. Vanderwoude, who had a dangerous pulmonary embolism — a blood clot in her lungs — during her third pregnancy, took blood-thinning medication.

And during each of her deliveries, specialists were on hand including hematologists, cardiologists and anesthesiologists who were fully aware of complications related to paralysis. Nelson delivers as many as babies each year but said she still marvels at the extraordinary — yet routine — wonder of motherhood. Still, research shows that the number of women with spinal cord injuries who get pregnant is relatively low.

Last year, a study published by the International Spinal Cord Society found only 2 percent of women with spinal cord injuries to be pregnant at that time, compared to nearly double that rate — 3. Taylor points to slowly evolving attitudes about women with disabilities having children to explain the low numbers. Even if women with paralysis are interested in getting pregnant, many doctors' offices don't have the lifts needed to transfer paralyzed patients into reclining chairs or examining tables for checkups.

And social media and parent family support programs addressing such topics have only begun to surface in the past five years, said Maggie Goldberg, vice president of policy and programs for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. In April, they launched an online campaign focused on pelvic health for women with spinal cord injuries. In a series of hourlong webinars, the country's leading experts on spinal cord injuries speak frankly to women with paralysis about bladder and bowel problems that affect sexuality, treatments for disorders with sex and how young women with paralysis can manage puberty.

Their second child, a boy named Nolan, died at 9 weeks from an unknown condition he was born with that caused fatal intestinal blockage, which doctors said was unrelated to his mother's paralysis.

Last month, Jacqueline, their eldest, was diagnosed with Type I diabetes, which now requires Jason Vanderwoude to come home from work at lunch time to administer insulin, because Joni cannot. The Vanderwoudes say because they can't afford more paid helpers, it becomes stressful coordinating volunteers to be there when Jason or other family members are at work.

Joni Vanderwoude said she used to think about how she'd never be able to hold her children's hands, until at 2 years old, Jacqueline instinctively started grabbing her mother's pinkie. She can't dance on two feet, but multiple times a day, her children climb up the wheels of her wheelchair, plop down on her lap and giggle as she spins them in circles. And when Zachary fusses, a helper places a Boppy pillow on Vanderwoude's lap and hooks a bottle onto a brace strapped to her wrist so she can feed her baby.

Twitter vikkiortiz. Skip to content. Living with paralysis. Her family, especially her husband, sends the credit back to her. Jason Vanderwoude. Not at all. Changing attitudes. Challenges and joy. Joni and Jason Vanderwoude acknowledge that raising their family has not been easy. Joni Vanderwoude, 36, and her husband Jason, 35, greet each other as he comes home during his lunch break April 22, Yet the parents choose to focus on all the things they can do. Latest Health. A Chicago nurse vacationed with other nurses every year.

But in that fear, I live in hope. He was supposed to retire Thursday after 34 years as a surgical tech. Instead, he died Monday after testing positive for coronavirus. First UIC nurse dies after testing positive for coronavirus. I just got robbed of it. Coronavirus A Chicago nurse vacationed with other nurses every year. What Doctors Know: Lower your blood pressure naturally overnight.

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Getting My Wife Pregnant After Spinal Cord Injury

English PDF. Having a spinal cord injury SCI does not affect your ability to naturally become pregnant, carry, and deliver a baby, so your decision to have children is made in much the same way as anyone else. You consider the demands and challenges of parenting and how you might manage them. Here are other facts to consider when deciding whether or not you want to have children. Your injury does not impact your baby.

Fertility issues can arise for spinal cord injury survivors, but a spinal cord injury does not have to mean giving up on parenting children. In the aftermath of a spinal cord injury, you might be so overwhelmed by your immediate needs that you give little thought to the future.

Our quiz discovers articles that are specific to your mobility and interests, and saves them all to one feed. Just login and see the latest news relevant to YOU. All our articles are public and free, but in addition to a custom feed, AbleThrive users gain access to new features first. Paralysis affects everyone differently and although it often affects fertility, particularly in men, there are many options for those who want to start a family.

Sexual health for women

Despite their physical limitations, women who are paralyzed can become pregnant and have a vaginal birth. While paralyzed men tend to have some difficulty with sexual function, paralyzed women typically continue to menstruate and experience the same level of sexual desire as non-paralyzed women. However, because of the mother's lack of mobility, there is a greater risk of complications during pregnancy and delivery. These include anemia, urinary tract infections, autonomic dysreflexia an over-stimulation of the nervous system that affects people with spinal cord trauma in particular , and trouble determining when labor is beginning. Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs. Can women who are paralyzed have children?

Indiana woman with quadriplegia embraces joys, challenges of motherhood

As each of her children grew inside her womb, Joni Vanderwoude felt nothing — not the fluttering first kicks in the beginning, not the bulging of her belly as it stretched to the size of a basketball, not the piercing contractions of labor that usually signal it's time. A car accident 16 years ago left Vanderwoude paralyzed from the neck down, unable to walk, cough or even scratch her own nose without someone to do what her own body could not. But Vanderwoude, of DeMotte, Ind. Two years after the accident, she married her high school sweetheart.

The physical act of intercourse is not all that defines your sexuality.

This copy is for your personal non-commercial use only. Sandra Burton would never feel the wrenching labour pains signaling her twin girls were ready to come into the world. It was one of the many risks of her pregnancy, and the one that most worried her doctors and kept her husband awake at night. An accident 20 years ago cost her the use of her legs and left her with minimal use of her arms.

Pregnancy and Fertility after Spinal Cord injury

What can you expect about pregnancy and fertility after spinal cord injury? Learning about a female and male fertility following a spinal cord injury is one thing, and getting a spinal cord injury fertility specialist is another. Whether your spinal cord injury was caused by a medical malpractice, car accident or another type of traumatic accident, the injury can lead to life-long complications that can affect your sensation, motor skills, and breathing. If you or a loved one has sustained a spinal cord injury in an accident that was not your fault, you may be entitled to compensation to cover your damages.

Sexual identity is a significant and encompassing aspect of one's personality — sexuality plays an essential role in how we feel about ourselves, how we relate to others, how others relate to us. Self-image can be shaken. Women wonder if they can have sex again, whether they can attract a partner, whether the partner will stay, whether having children is possible. Paralysis itself doesn't affect a woman's libido or her need to express herself sexually, nor does it affect her ability to conceive a child. Generally speaking, sexuality in women living with paralysis is less affected than in men. It is physically easier for a woman to adapt her sexual role, even though it may be more passive than that of a non-disabled woman.

Special delivery: Quadriplegic gives birth to twins in Hamilton hospital

What about getting married? Can you naturally conceive a family? His questions are shared by thousands of young men each year who suffer paralyzing spinal injuries. After the accident, he grew closer to a woman he had met while both were dating other people. Rates of women who are opting for preventive mastectomies, such as Angeline Jolie, have increased by an estimated 50 percent in recent years, experts say.

Feb 5, - It was one of the many risks of her pregnancy, and the one that most worried her doctors It is rare for a quadriplegic woman to have a child. Burton's doctors at McMaster University Medical Centre say they do not know of.

Increase in survival of spinal cord injured SCI women, society's acceptance that their lives should be similar to those of non-disabled women and their better general health are increasing the number of SCI women who become pregnant and will be delivered of a child. Vaginal delivery is preferred. Any SCI woman whose level is at T6 or higher is at risk for acute autonomic hyperreflexia as a result of uterine contractions. Communication with the woman's obstetrician is essential. The patient should be provided with a packet of information to share with the obstetrician.

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Can women who are paralyzed have children?


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