Now that I am in the third trimester, I’m really happy to finally have worked out a birth plan with the help of my gynecologist and midwives! I have an incomplete spinal cord injury at the t10 level (around the belly button). For me that means that I cannot move my legs, but still have feeling below my level of injury.
While the pregnancy and baby is healthy and not really affected by my injury, there are/were concerns about what I can feel, whether things will go differently than in an able bodied person, and what I can move/control, especially regarding the delivery of the baby.
I live in the Netherlands, where home births are common. Unless you have a high risk pregnancy, your baby will also be delivered by midwife rather than a gynecologist. You can have a home birth with your midwife, hospital birth with your midwife, a hospital birth with the hospital midwives, or a hospital birth with a gynecologist. For all hospital births, the gynecologist on call would be aware of/make final decisions regarding emergency situations.
Because of my injury, a home birth or using a midwife from a birthing center was immediately out of the question. As soon as we found out that I was pregnant, we got in touch with the OB office at our local hospital and we have been discussing the birthing options since then. Actually, my doctor has been very calm and reassuring about it, but I’ve kind of been my obsessive self and needing to plan every detail out.
Paralysis and pregnancy: Birth plan
Initially, we were told that I may need to be hospitalized from 36 weeks in order to make sure I didn’t go into labour at home. This advice was given by ‘experts’ from the larger hospital prior to us even conceiving. Their concern was that I wouldn’t be able to tell when labour starts and would deliver at home.
Within the second trimester, I last talked with my doctor about this and my husband and I really expressed that we are vehemently against this. The idea of spending 4 weeks in the hospital just waiting seems honestly quite ridiculous. Thank goodness our doctor agreed and said that was ridiculous.
The thing is, I can feel the baby move and have feeling all throughout my body, even my legs, so we are all confident that I will be able to tell when labour starts. I’m also so relieved because the last time I was in the hospital for so long was when I was first injured and I have zero desire to traumatize Y like this again. We told him already that I would need to go to the hospital to deliver the baby, but that we would go home shortly thereafter, but weeks on end would be very uprooting for him. Again, we are very happy about this!
So, what is the plan?
My doctors are very optimistic that we will be able to have a more or less natural, vaginal delivery assisted by hospital midwives! Again, I am so, so happy about this! There are however, a few precautions we will need to be taking.
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