Changing the Conversation

Changing the Conversation

‘You don’t know what its like to wake up every morning and see an empty cot’.

These words bring to mind mothers who have had a stillbirth or a miscarriage. We do not think of those mothers who have given birth to a live baby and returned from hospital without their baby. Mothers with an intellectual disability (ID) more than any other mothers, are more likely for their baby to go into the foster care system.

Despite the changes to inclusion for people with disability since the 1980s, mothers with ID or any type of disability still remain stigmatised and subject to social scrutiny. Social attitudes that believe those with disability are not entitled to develop sexual relationships and have children, like their non-disabled peers, still permeate our society. This is evidenced through many Australian national and state policy documents. Women with disabilities are omitted from the 2011 National Maternity Services Plan, and many disability-based documents overlook those with disabilities who are parents as well. Until we change this discourse at the policy level, how can we expect our culture and organisations to reflect this?

However, at the National Women’s Health Summit, held in Sydney on March 2nd, women with disability were included as a priority group. The National Women’s Health Summit 2018 Priorities Draft Document released on International Women’s Day acknowledges the importance of catering to women with disability in hospital maternity units. It is only through inclusion of women with disability in all aspects of life that we can change the conversation and fully embraceinclusion.


Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians

National Women’s Health Summit

Media release from RANZCOG on the disability stream of the NWH Summit-

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Hello and welcome to disAbilityMaternityCare. My name is Namira Williams. As founder of disAbilityMaternityCare, I’d like to take a couple of minutes to explain to you the reasons why I have developed this website, and how it might help you.

As a midwife and mother to a daughter with a learning disability, I became aware of the need to provide relevant information to help each woman, and her family on this journey from pregnancy through to motherhood.

Becoming pregnant can be both an exciting and a scary time for most women. But for women with disabilities, they have additional needs which make this journey to motherhood more challenging.

Many health providers and other care providers are also unsure of what types of information to provide or the types of care needed. This site aims to help provide that for you. I believe that my experiences as a midwife who has cared for women with disabilities, my own personal experiences, and my research into maternity care for women with intellectual disabilities has given me both an insight and also a passion into how best to support women and their families through this journey.

Like other women, women with disabilities have diverse needs and one answer does not fit all. Each woman often knows her own needs best. It is our job as care providers to work together for the best outcomes for mum, baby and family. In our communities, we talk about the importance of inclusion. Inclusion here, means that women have the chance to make their own choices in relation to becoming mothers.

I don’t have all the answers, and so I welcome your feedback and your contributions. It is only through hearing women’s voices that we can change the conversation to enable women with disabilities to become the mothers that they would like to be. Thankyou.