Managing a pregnancy when your baby has a special needs diagnosis can be challenging. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Don't be afraid to get a second opinion. Your doctor should explain what to expect during and after your pregnancy. She should be there for you to offer support and advice and to help answer any questions you might have. Depending on the specifics of your baby's needs, you should be able to meet with the neonatal and pediatric providers that will be caring for him or her as well.
It's OK to feel what you're feeling. Grief, anger, fear, guilt, isolation, despair, hope ― all of these feelings are normal during pregnancy with a special needs child. However, it's important to stay positive and hopeful for your and your baby's health.
Educate yourself but beware of Google. The Internet is full of misinformation. Be sure to use a speculative mind when researching your baby's condition, and remember, every child is different, meaning the seriousness of his or her condition may vary.
Seek support from others. You and your partner don't have to face this challenging time alone. Talk with your friends and family, join a support group (online or in-person) or look into foundations and organizations that focus on your baby's condition.
Remember to enjoy your pregnancy. Special needs or not, you are supporting another human life! Get excited for feeling those little kicks from your baby and watching your body change.■
Eleanor Eichman is a pediatrician at Sixteenth Street Community Health Center.