Women and Families

It is common for family members to be concerned that their daughter will not be able to manage labour and need a caesarean. However, having an intellectual disability itself is not a reason for this. A caesarean birth has greater risks associated with the surgery for both mother and baby and is undertaken for medical or obstetric reasons.

Many partners and family members find it difficult seeing their loved one in pain whether they have a disability or not. During pregnancy, her health provider and particularly the midwife can spend time talking with your daughter about how best to manage labour. The midwife can:

  • Explain the process of labour at a level she can understand;
  • Use pictures and videos to support the explanation;
  • Provide time for her to ask questions and have them answered;
  • Have several frequent conversations about labour to reinforce the information and develop her skills to manage the birth.

This can be further helped by having the same midwife (known as Caseload midwifery model) for all her antenatal care, and particularly if the midwife is also able to provide care during the birth. 

Health Professionals

Disability in people can be diverse and the level of disability also varies. A woman with disability may have managed her activities of daily life reasonably well prior to becoming pregnant. However, the birth of a baby and the skills required bring additional challenges, for most women, and particularly for women with disabilities. An assessment can assist in determining whether that she is able to independently meet the needs of her baby, or whether assistance is required. This assistance may be extra support and teaching of mothercraft skills.  In order for her to access this support she is likely to need additional funding through an NDIS package.

Service Providers

Every woman has the right to have children, and this includes women with a disability. If the woman has an intellectual disability, her IQ is not reflective of her ability to parent. Most parents need assistance at some point in their parenting whether they have a disability or not.

Coercion to terminate a pregnancy can be considered a form of Family violence. No one can coerce a woman to make this decision. Discussion with a health provider at a local Community Health Centre or through Family Planning services can assist this client to make the decision that works for her. Disability Advocacy or the Intellectual Disability Rights Service can also provide assistance in decision making in this instance.

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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.