"How did that happen?" Public responses to women with mobility disability during pregnancy

Background: Little is known about current societal attitudes toward women with significant mobility disability who are visibly pregnant. Objective: To use qualitative descriptive analysis methods to examine perceptions of women with significant mobility disability about how strangers reacted to thei...

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Journal Title: Disability and Health Journal Vol. 8; no. 3; pp. 380 - 387
Authors: Lisa I. Iezzoni, Amy J. Wint, Suzanne C. Smeltzer, Jeffrey L. Ecker
Format: Article
Language: English
Published: 2015
Subjects:
Summary: Background: Little is known about current societal attitudes toward women with significant mobility disability who are visibly pregnant. Objective: To use qualitative descriptive analysis methods to examine perceptions of women with significant mobility disability about how strangers reacted to their visible pregnancies. Methods: In late 2013, we conducted 2-h telephone interviews with 22 women with significant mobility difficulties who had delivered babies within the prior 10 years. The semi-structured, open-ended interview protocol addressed wide-ranging pregnancy-related topics, including statements from strangers. Most participants were recruited through social networks, coming from 17 states nationwide. We used NVivo to sort the texts for content analysis. Results: The women's mean (standard deviation) age was 34.8 (5.3) years; most were white, well-educated, and higher income, although half had Medicaid during their pregnancies; and 18 used wheeled mobility aids. Eighteen women described memorable interactions with strangers relating to their pregnancies or newborn babies. Strangers' statements fell into six categories: (1) curious; (2) intrusively and persistently curious; (3) hostile, including concerns that taxpayers would end up supporting the mother and child; (4) questioning woman's competence as a potential parent; (5) oblivious, not recognizing visible pregnancy or motherhood; and (6) positive. Many women reported strangers asking how their pregnancy had happened. The women doubted that visibly pregnant women without disabilities evoke the same reactions from strangers. Conclusions: Women with mobility disability who are visibly pregnant may perceive reactions from strangers that appear intrusive. Planning ahead for handling such encounters could reduce the stresses of these interactions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2015 APA, all rights reserved)(journal abstract)
ISSN: 1936-6574
DOI: 10.1016/j.dhjo.2015.02.002