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Invisible and Centre Stage:
A disabled woman’s perspective on maternity services

Written by Liz Crow
Royal College of Midwives Journal, Apr 2003

This paper is based on a presentation made to the Department of Health Open Forum Event of the Children’s National Service Framework (Maternity Module) in January 2003. It is a disabled woman’s experience of pregnancy, birth and the maternity services.


This time last year when my daughter was four months old, I carried her strapped to my front in a sling. I went out and about with great regularity, displaying new baby and new motherhood and wheeling proud, and whilst there would be some clucking, mostly what I received were slightly odd looks. On a particular day we were at the newsagents, a shop I’d been using for at least a couple of years. At the till, the woman who’d worked there throughout blurted out “Oh god, it’s a baby! I thought it was a teddy bear.”

When I was pregnant, it was not much different. In my ante-natal class, one woman wondered aloud whether everyone was approached by complete strangers asking when it was due and they all nodded and laughed in recognition. But, no. Not once did it happen to me. Hugely pregnant, I would go into John Lewis and still people would say “What a lovely wheelchair” and “How does it work?”

It seems that people struggle to see me as a mother or a potential mother. And, given this fundamental perception that, as a disabled woman, I cannot be these things, then it’s no wonder when it comes to maternity services, I’m on the outside.

To read the full text, please download the PDF below.

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To cite this page: Crow, Liz (2003) Invisible and Centre Stage: A disabled woman’s perspective on maternity services, Roaring Girl Productions [online] [Available at:] [Accessed 14/04/2024]