238 chapter 11: Labor and birth
Important information about dysreflexia
for women with spinal-cord injury
If you have a fairly high spinal-cord injury (usually T6 and above), you can get a
sudden, dangerous increase in blood pressure with pounding headaches and severe
sweating (see pages 117 to 119). You may get these signs when you are in labor.
What to do:
See a health worker or midwife regularly so your blood pressure can be checked.
This should be done at least once every week for the first 7 months, and then every
day for the last few weeks, before your labor starts. This way they will be able to see
if your blood pressure starts to get high.
Take care of your bowel program.
This is especially important during
pregnancy. Drink a lot of water and eat
foods that will help you have easy bowel
movements. Too much stool in your
body can cause dysreflexia.
Make sure your bladder stays
empty, because a full bladder can cause
dysreflexia. If you use an indwelling
(Foley) catheter, make sure it does not
become twisted or bent and prevent the
urine from coming out.
Look and feel for contractions a few times
each day during the last weeks before the
baby is due and watch for other signs that
labor is starting (see pages 236 to 237).
As soon as you have any signs your labor
is starting, go to a hospital or maternity
clinic right away to give birth. You will need
to have anesthesia injected in your spine.
This is called an “epidural” and will prevent
dysreflexia caused by labor contractions.
A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities 2007