Problem Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is an increasingly commonly diagnosed disability. People with ASD commonly report challenges in social interaction and a heightened sensory perception. These challenges may be particularly difficult for women during pregnancy, birthing and beyond. Background Very little is known about the experiences and needs of birthing women who have ASD. There is a large body of literature about women who have autistic children, but almost nothing about women who may have this disability themselves. Internet blogs provide some insights and suggest that birthing women with ASD may have particular challenges related to communication, decision making and sensory overload. Question This study explores the particular issues and experiences of birthing women who have ASD, through pregnancy, birth and early mothering. Method This qualitative research used a case study approach, with in-depth interviewing and email exchange providing the data for the study. This data was verified, transcribed and analysed thematically. Findings The findings of this case study identified three key issues: communication and service difficulties; sensory stress and parenting challenges. Discussion and conclusion Findings suggest that women with ASD may face particular challenges during pregnancy, birthing and early mothering. These challenges evolve from perceptions of the woman about her midwives and other caregivers. If a woman perceives that her midwife is judgemental about her, then she may withdraw from the care and support she and her baby need.
- Autism spectrum disorder