Supporting your client to find the right Antenatal Care

Supporting your client to find the right Antenatal Care

Who should she see?

If you are a Service Provider caring for a woman with a disability who finds she is pregnant, it is important for her to see a health professional like her GP, as early as possible to help her make the choices that suit her. She may have mixed feelings about being pregnant, regardless of whether it was a planned pregnancy or not. Most women have these feelings.

Supporting her choices in becoming a mother

It is important for you as the Care Provider to support her feelings and the choices she wants to make about this pregnancy. It often helps by exploring how she feels about becoming a mother. And many women’s feelings change over time too. Most women, whether they have a disability or not, feel overwhelmed at first, and wonder if they can develop the skills needed as a mother. It is through the pregnancy, that they develop their confidence in becoming a mother.

Parenting and mothering is a learned skill, and strongly depends on the support of other people to develop. The earlier in pregnancy, women can be linked in services to provide support the better. You as a care provider will already be providing some support, but support for her pregnancy is also crucial. This may be from a midwife, or from other women who are also pregnant.

Booking-in to hospital and antenatal visits

Booking-in to hospital and antenatal visits

Booking-in to the hospital maternity service early is important. At this visit, the midwife will talk to the mother about options for her pregnancy care. This may depend on the mother’s disability, and what maternity services are available in the local area. Her disability may mean she needs to see both doctors and midwives. Most hospitals in Australia provide a public antenatal clinic where the mother may see different midwives and doctors each time she goes. For many women with additional needs, like a disability, having the same midwife for her pregnancy visits can be the best option. This may be called Caseload midwifery or Midwifery group practice. Some hospitals may have Team midwifery instead where the mother will see a couple of midwives throughout her pregnancy.

Some larger hospitals also may offer Caseload midwifery for women with higher medical needs. Here, the mother will see the same midwife along with other medical specialists throughout the pregnancy.

The benefits of seeing the same midwife for pregnancy care are:

  • The mother gets to know the midwife and develops a trusting relationship with the midwife;
  • The midwife gets to know the mother’s story, and how best to communicate with her;
  • The midwife can tailor information to suit the mother’s level of understanding and particular needs;
  • As the midwife develops a good relationship with the mother and her support people, she is better able to advocate for her;

The number of pregnancy visits that the mother will have, and ongoing tests, will depend on her circumstances and disability. As a Care Provider, you will need to discuss with the mother how she would like you to support her.

Your role as Care Provider

This may be to:

  • Assist mother with transport to antenatal appointments;
  • Assist with communication depending on the mother’s disability; this may include verbal support, but also assisting her fill out relevant maternity forms, or make appointments by phone.
  • Advocate for the mother, during appointments, and assist the midwife or other health professional provide pregnancy, birth and parenting information in a manner best suited to the mother.
  • Liaise with health professionals, on behalf of the mother to link in to relevant services, either to support her during pregnancy or after the birth of her baby;

Does she need NDIS support?

If the mother has existing National Insurance Disability Scheme (NDIS) funding, you may need to assist her to apply for further funding to support her new role as a parent. If she does not have NDIS funding because she has been relatively independent in caring for herself, she may need to apply for assistance. Having a baby requires new skills and considerations to be developed, and whilst the mother may have good self-care skills, a new baby adds further challenges.

Different areas will have a variety of services available to support parents-to-be. Community Health Centres are the best way to find out about these in your area.

For other information

Maternity choices – have a range of consumer information available to assist pregnant women and their families/carers.

Pregnancybirth&baby website – A national government funded site with information related to pregnany, birth or parenting.

Raising Children Network Pregnancy – provides general pregnancy information

National Disability Insurance Scheme – information on this scheme and funding for support if your client has a disability

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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.