Pregnancy as a Woman with Dwarfism


Finally getting to this subject, as it has been a discussion item on many boards and asked by many LP women and couples in our community. I would be happy to answer any more questions from our/my experience. There are just so many questions about the subject, it’s easier to leave it as just a Q & A.

Was finding maternity clothes difficult because of being an LP?

I didn’t find it to be difficult finding maternity clothes, personally. But, we are all different shapes and sizes in the LP world. Also, my taste is different than others. My style is pretty laid back, funky and comfortable. Also, I like to keep things affordable. Though, if you are in an office environment that requires you to wear business attire, it may be more difficult. When I was working for a university in the front line and not behind the scenes, I kept my attire mostly monochromatic with black, blues, greys, browns, and whites. It’s also very slim looking! I bought a couple of maternity pants in neutral colors, got them hemmed and mixed them up with my regular tops/non-maternity pants during the 1st and 2nd trimester. I had some dresses already on hand that either had an empire waste or a stretchy/loose fitting cut. I took these and mixed them with my maternity pants, especially if they were dresses on the short side. The product was a very chic, black or charcoal grey ensemble with low flat heels. On Casual Fridays, I bought some dark maternity jeans and paired it with a black or grey top, layering it with a maternity tank top as I got to be rounder. These were my must haves for LP maternity style:

1st and 2nd Trimester Solutions

  • Low and at-waist jeans or tailored pants, either one waist size bigger than pre-pregnancy size (low-rise knit panel or woven waistband) are comfy and will last most, if not all of the pregnancy.
  • Pants should be in neutral colors where you can mix it with any top. Though, my favorite pregnancy pants happened to be pink corduroy for fun!
  • For tops, you can manage a maternity top just as you would pre-pregnancy tops. The same tips apply: short sleeve, 3/4 or half sleeves work best for off-the-rack solutions. Some other cuts work better than others: empire waist, drop waists, smocked or draped tops. For extra coverage, try using a maternity camisole or tank top. But, in a pinch, you could easily just buy a larger size non-maternity shirt and wear it until the end of your 3rd trimester.

2nd and 3rd Trimester Solutions

  • For pants, I bought maybe one full-panel/smooth-panel, which covered the belly. But, as an LP woman, I felt more comfortable with a low-rise pregnancy pant and longer top because I was so large towards the end. I liked the looser feel of a pregnancy top and low-rise pants and not a fitted panel on top of my belly. As far as cut, I’ve always liked boot-cut jeans because of our shorter thicker thighs as LPs. It’s fashionable and comfortable. Slim fit or boyfriend cut jeans just are not LP friendly.
  • For tops, I loved re-using my short dresses as tops. I got so many compliments from co-workers and friends. And for those tops from my 2nd trimester that were just a little short, but still wearable, I matched it with a maternity tank top. You will see that a lot of AH women do this little trick too.
  • As you get larger, you’ll need more comfy shoes. I was sad when I had to let go of my 3″ heels. But, the reality is that you get larger and will be doing a number on your back if you keep up with the heels. I found cute flats, loafers, and tennis shoes that were easy to slip on. As with AH women, it will be difficult to put on your shoes later in pregnancy. Make it easy on yourself and get easy slip-on shoes.

Were doctors supportive or hesitant to have you as a patient?

Good question. I think this is important for anyone seeking good healthcare. Your doctor should be supportive, open, and willing to learn about how he/she can support you during your pregnancy. Thankfully, we had an awesome high-risk pregnancy obstetrician. He had assisted in delivering a child of an LP woman in the past and was willing to call docs at Cedars-Sinai to learn more about the risks. He had a positive, practical attitude and talked me through each check up. He has been there for every pregnancy. When we decided to stop making babies, he talked me through all the options. Also, he has been there for all of my other women’s health issues. Still supportive, and open to learning about my body as an achondroplastic patient.

Were you able to go full term or close to full term?

We delivered both of our children at full term with both being delivered by a scheduled c-section. The first one at 37 ½ weeks and the second one at 38 ½ weeks. 37 weeks gestation can also be called near-term, but most docs call it at-term. We delivered the first one earlier because we wanted to make sure either the baby or myself were not at risk. When we found that we were pregnant again, we scheduled the second for later because we wanted to make sure there were no respiratory complications for the baby.

Did you have genetic testing for the baby while pregnant?

My husband has pseudoachondroplasia (mutation in the COMP gene) and I have achondroplasia (mutation in the FGFR3 gene). When we were planning our family, one of our geneticists had informed us that we could have a child with double dominant dwarfism. Apparently, geneticists experienced with dwarfism have seen LPs with two heterozygous (different types) genes like our situation have a 25% chance of having a child with both dwarfism genes which can cause more severe symptoms than having just one gene. I was shocked to hear this because I was told all these years that two different types of LPs could not have a child with double dominance. In addition, I had a friend who had two children born with two dominant heterozygous dwarfism genes and live. In our case, I researched heavily through my contacts in our organization and found more than 5 living LPs with both the FGFR3 and COMP gene mutations living a productive and healthy life.

The question of genetic testing in utero is a controversial subject and should be up to each family or individual. Our thoughts are: It is what it is. Let’s not take the risk of possibly hurting the baby or risking the pregnancy. With our first child who had only one gene (achondroplasia), it just so happens that he had spinal compression (common in dwarfism) and some other health issues. But these are common with any child with dwarfism. When we were watching the ultrasound images of our second child, she never fell off the growth chart and her proportions were on track with one another. No signs of achondroplasia. However, with pseudoachondroplasia, it shows up in radiology testing after infancy (ages 2-3). We did not want to harm our child. We decided to take the cord blood after giving birth and test for my husband’s confirmed pseudoachondroplasia mutation (COMP).

Did you have to be put on bed rest during your pregnancy?

Every LP woman is different, just as every AH woman is different. I did not have to be put on bed rest during my pregnancy. I was very conscientious of what I ate so that I didn’t gain too much. I had heard of AH friends with stories of gaining 50 lbs. during their pregnancy. Eek! That is over half my weight! As much as the cookies, cupcakes, chips and fatty ethnic food called my name during my pregnancy, I fought it so that I didn’t have a large weight gain.

My OB/GYN was actually amazed with how I kept down my weight and stayed active. He said that I had easy pregnancies compared to some of his other patients. In fact, with my first pregnancy, I worked at my job at the university until the last day before my maternity leave. Coordinating a campus-wide event of all things! People were so worried I would give birth at the event.

Did you have an epidural or have to be put completely under?

There are 4 types of anesthesia during labor: drugs, local anesthesia, spinal block, and epidural. From what I understand, the only options for LPs are a spinal block and general anesthesia. I personally have never heard of an LP giving birth vaginally, but there may be the exception. Our pelvises are too small for the baby to drop and fit through the birth canal. It can do harm to both mother and baby with vaginal child birth. Again, I’m not an expert, this is what I understand from talking to doctors and listening to LP women friends of mine who have had children.

For both pregnancies, I was given a spinal block. The spinal block was better than an epidural because a scheduled c-section should only last less than an hour. Whereas a vaginal birth, which requires possibly hours of pushing, would need an epidural that could last hours and be increased if needed. General anesthesia was not recommended because the anesthesia would put me asleep, not witnessing the birth of my children. Also, it would mean the baby would also get anesthesia. But, I have LP friends who had no other option than general anesthesia due to their previous health history. The spinal block was my pain control.

Spinal blocks can be done either right or wrong. If done wrong, it can damage an LPs spine with its narrow spinal column and risk spinal damage to the patient. With both my pregnancies, I was very adamant with the anesthesiologist to make sure he knew the risks and he read the anesthesia guidelines before moving forward.

Here is a video of an achondroplastic woman preparing to give birth and receiving a spinal block. If you notice, the doc asked the woman to bend over to make space for the needle to go between the vertebrae. She bent over to a degree. With both of my deliveries, I was also given the same protocol, except they asked for me to hold onto the nurse tightly and to curl up into a ball as tight as I could so that they could make as much space as possible for the needle to be inserted. Believe me, I held on so tight to those nurses and curled up as tight as I could. Holding my breath, I thought positive, peaceful thoughts and prayed. And I didn’t move an inch! You would too if it meant you could have spinal damage from one small needle.

One very cool thing I did learn from my second delivery was the utilization of an ultrasound machine for prepping the area for a spinal block. They used an ultra sound machine on my lower back to see where the best place was to place the needle. Marking it ever so carefully and then double checking the mark, I stayed in that position while they administered the needle into my back.

How long was your hospital stay?

My hospital stay was the average stay for a c-section surgery, which is about 3-4 days.

How did you manage using a crib in terms of reaching in?

We had delivered our children before the drop-side cribs were outlawed in the U.S. Thankfully, we had these and it made it easier to put them to bed in their crib. But, for the first month or so, we used a bassinet. We liked both the Arm’s Reach Mini Co-Sleeper and something similar to the The First Years Carry-Me-Near 5-in-1 Sleep System. The Arm’s Reach one did not require a stool to reach in, whereas the other one did require a small stepstool, but it was still easy to reach in to get the baby.

 

Once our daughter got older and taller, we had to find another solution to our drop-side crib. As handy as it was, she was more agile and daring than her brother. But, the good thing about this crib was that it was convertible, so we converted it to a toddler bed when she was about 9 months old. We placed a foam mat right on the floor next to her bed, which was only 1 foot from the ground and we put a toddler bed rail on the side for extra safety. She was able to get herself in and out of the bed safely and we could reach her still.

Any baby equipment you couldn’t use or just skipped because of it being too inconvenient?

We were fortunate to be able to test out different products without it hurting us that much financially. But, others don’t have that luxury and this is part of the reason why we wrote this blog. We don’t want others to have to struggle with the same things that we did. But again, all LPs are different, and this is what DIDN’T work for us:

  • Infant Carrier Sling: As LPs who have had back problems in the past and know that spinal compression can be a lifetime health issue among LPs, we didn’t bother with one.
  • Crib Bumpers: We are already short. Having a crib bumper to add to the crib bedding just got in the way of us looking into the crib. Besides, removing it alleviated some of our worries for SIDS. They’re cute, but impractical.
  • Shopping Cart Covers: It’s the same idea as the crib bumpers. We’re short, and having to use it would block our view from seeing out in front of the cart. We just used antibacterial wipes before putting our children in the cart.

Those are the major products that we didn’t use. But, please see our other blog posts about our favorite products and the not-so-good for most dwarf kids product list.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Briana January 8, 2013 at 5:28 pm

I know there have been plenty of twin births for ladies with dwarfism, but do you know if there’sbeen a case where a lady with dwarfism has carried more than twins? I have never heard of a lady of average height having more than twins with dwarfism either.

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Jennifer August 22, 2013 at 2:42 pm

I love this article and just wanted to ask…I am trying to conceive at the moment and my one huge worry is the crib. I’m also a nanny and putting the baby in the crib and getting her out even with the mattress at the highest setting is a huge problem for me. I think it’s completely unsafe. They have me standing on a high step stool with a baby! I hate it and don’t want to do it with my baby. I worry every day I’m going to hurt the little one I’m caring for now but mom doesn’t see a problem with it. Have any of the mother’s here who also have dwarfism found a safe dropside crib? I might just buy one off of craigslist or a yard sale anyways. I know that will make a lot of people angry on here but to me accidentally dropping and injuring my baby is a huge concern, especially if my baby is also a little person. I can imagine that right after labor climbing on a stepstool isn’t going to be great or safe either.

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