The Need For Disability To Be Included In The Pregnancy Conversation

Words: Beth Fuller

With more women’s voices being heard in society, womanhood is becoming an honest and representative conversation. However, there are still individuals excluded form the homogenous idea of women we encounter in topics such as sex, , motherhood and more.

As a woman that has experienced pregnancy three times, Christa Couture decided to create the pregnancy photos she was struggling to find: disabled pregnancy images. The  ‘singer, songwriter, storyteller, cyborg’ decided to give women the representation that was missing in the pregnancy conversation herself; she soon became a viral sensation.

We sat down with Couture to find out more about her experience in pregnancy, what she thinks of the conversation at present and her hopes the representation of women with disabilities.

 

SO IMPORTANT. Thank you and congratulations to @christacouture ——“I Couldn’t Find Any Disability Maternity Photos, So I Made My Own: …..I hope that the next person to do an image search for “disability and pregnancy” finds these photos and feels empowered by them. I hope they know: your difference is powerful, beautiful. And being a parent? You can do it. Go get all glowy with your pregnant self, whatever body you’re in.” ———————————————— I really loved this article featuring Christa. When I talk about representation THIS is what I mean. Not the vain need to see people like you in Magazine but knowing there are people like you doing things or living a life that you are constantly (subliminally or not ) told you can’t. I’m glad there are people out there showing that these things are reachable and just as they are the norm for a handful they should be for all. Imagine more portrayals of woman bosses, trans women, girls in STEM, Black in tech, middle eastern playing a role that’s not a terrorist, big women as the love Interest in your favorite sitcom but also in those steamy sex scenes.(& the list goes on) These images and stories are important they are shaping tomorrow’s society. #mamacax #bionicmommy 📷: @jensquiresphotographer [image description: pregnant woman against white backdrop standing profile with left prosthetic leg closer to the camera. She’s wearing beige pantie and a flowery crop top that matches Her flowery prosthetic thigh.] __________________________________________________________

A post shared by Mama Cāx (@mamacaxx) on

Before we get into chatting about your incredible achievements so far, it would be lovely for our readers to hear a little bit about you first; how old are you? Where are you from? What spurred you to have the career you have created for yourself today?
I’m 39 and currently live in Toronto (having grown up in Edmonton, Alberta, and then spent 18 years in Vancouver, B.C.). My career path has been circuitous and so it’s hard to say what spurred it! After high school, I went to film school and worked in documentary television production for ten years. Concurrently, I began playing guitar, piano, and writing songs. I started taking fewer contracts in tv production and playing more shows — by the time my third album came out, I was a full-time musician. And then in the last couple of years, have decided to take a break from touring. I’m also a writer, a community arts organizer and programmer, and a mom.

What was your experience like being pregnant with a disability? Do you feel this experience is talked about enough in the rising honest conversation surrounding pregnancy and motherhood?
I don’t think conversations around pregnancy are nowhere near being inclusive of the breadth of experiences had. Disability in particular is excluded from these conversations as disabled people are constantly told – directly and indirectly – through television, movies, , advertising etc, that they cannot do things which includes being pregnant or parent. As a disabled person who has had three pregnancies, I have found it very challenging to find information/informed support and peers. With my most recent pregnancy, I was lucky that living in a major city meant access to a care team that specialized in supporting bodies with disabilities and I didn’t face any of those barriers in the health care system. Physically, it was very challenging, but mostly I was really missing out on representation. I knew I couldn’t be the only disabled person going through pregnancy, but I felt very alone in the experience.
What did it feel like to see the reaction of people and the media to your pregnancy photos? 
I wasn’t surprised by the reaction to my maternity photos from other disabled people, although I was very moved by their responses (getting emails from other disabled people all over the world was incredible!), but I was surprised that they resonated for so many other and non-disabled people. I didn’t expect to be thanked so much for making these photos public — what I’ve come to realize, is that we’re all affected by homogey in media, no matter what body we’re in, and that we’re all hungry for diversity in representation.
Do you have any hopes for the future of the representation of disabilities in sectors such as Fashion and Beauty?
For the future of fashion and beauty, I have high hopes for the inclusion of disability! I think this movement has started — beautiful, sexy, stylish, trendsetting folx with disabilities are starting to get the attention they deserve. Thank goodness for social and independent media where marginalized bodies can be seen and heard. I’m finding new people to follow all the time, and doing these photos really connected me to a community I so badly needed. I’m sure we’ll continue to see more difference — we all need it!
Are there any final words of advice for our readers? 
It took me a long time to feel comfortable in my own skin. Granted, facing and naming ableism was part of that challenge, but I’ve also realized now that it’s so normal no matter who you are to struggle with . I wish I had known 15 years ago: be patient, give it time, you will love and celebrate this body once you see what it can accomplish. Just wait.
Like this? Follow Christa here.