Parent to Parent: How to Prepare for Motherhood With a DisabilityMay 1, 2018
From news media to TV, magazines and movies, depictions of how it looks to become a new parent are everywhere. The truth is that real life tends to look a bit different from these idealized images. If you’re a soon-to-be parent and you also have a disability, you may feel even more like the “typical” image of parenthood doesn’t seem to fit. Let this guide help you to prepare for parenthood in the real world, and how you can adapt your home and life to make parenting with a disability work for your family.
One of the first things many people think about when they have a baby on the way is all the gear they’ll need. For a parent who has a physical disability, you will likely end up with some combination of standard gear, making adaptations and choosing products that have been designed for accessibility.
Ideas to Modify Your Home
Start by thinking about any safety and accessibility issues throughout your house. Remove any loose carpeting or rugs, especially if you have limited sight or use a wheelchair, as rugs could get caught in wheels or cause slipping. You may also want to replace door knobs with levers. Door knobs can be difficult to turn if you use a wheelchair, but a lever can be easily pushed down, making it quick and easy to get to your child whenever you’re needed. Your home is already set up to work for you, but go through it now thinking about everyday baby care and any changes that will make doing these tasks easier.
Baby Gear at Home
The idea of filling your home with gear may feel a little daunting, but try to focus on what will truly make life with your baby easier. One of the most obvious needs is a crib that is accessible from a wheelchair. There are several companies that make accessible cribs, or some parents choose to modify one. When it comes to other regular care, you may want to think outside the box to find alternative solutions. For example, Disability, Pregnancy and Parenthood reviews a special diaper changing pad that prevents the baby from rolling while being changed. A creative option like this for safe diaper changes at your level may be easier than using a traditional changing table.
Baby Gear For Getting Out
You will also want to get out and about with baby, and having a physical disability shouldn’t get in your way. If you’re looking at adaptive strollers, think about the paved surfaces around where you live. Are they smooth or uneven? This will help you determine if you need something with all-terrain wheels.
When looking at different options, think about whether they give you the freedom to use your hands. Some parents find that babywearing by using a wrap or structured carrier is a great solution because it’s safe, allows you to be hands-free on the go, and it also keeps baby close for bonding. Try out several different types of carriers to find a style that’s easiest for you to use.
Preparing Yourself for the Adjustment
While preparing your home and baby gear is an essential part of the process, preparing yourself for this change is just as important. Becoming a parent is amazing and beautiful, all while being emotional and exhausting at the same time. Greater Good Magazine discusses the physical and psychological challenges that are common for any new parent. The best way to prepare for this emotional roller coaster is to learn from other parents’ experiences and be open minded. Postpartum depression is common, so become educated now and arm yourself with tools to manage emotional symptoms and get help.
Becoming a parent is one of the biggest changes we go through in life, regardless of your abilities or limitations. Preparation is key to make your home safe and easier to care for your child. Just don’t forget about yourself in this process. Caring for your own well-being is essential, so you can give your best to baby.
Article written by Ashley Taylor of disabledparents.org