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October 6, 2018

Preparing for Parenthood When You Have a Disability

Written by Patrick Young

Becoming a parent is among the most life-changing stages of anyone’s life. It’s exciting, scary and full of surprises and thoroughly rewarding. Preparing for a baby is a challenge for all new parents and it can take some extra planning and preparation for those with a disability. You may have already made certain modifications to your home and likely already use equipment that fits your own needs. But there may be some additional measures to be taken to adapt your environment for parenthood. Here are a few things to consider for getting yourself and your home ready for the little one.

Take care of yourself

Self-care is an important but often-overlooked aspect of life. When a child comes into your life, it is usually even more difficult to practice self-care. Make sure good health and positive habits are in place well before the day of arrival. The to-do list that comes with the news of a baby can be taxing on a parent-to-be. It’s best to follow the list as much as you can in advance. This means packing a hospital bag, washing baby clothes, installing a car seat, stocking up on diapers and so on. Also try to go on a little vacation, go to a concert, catch up on sleep, or anything else you find fun or relaxing.

Modify your home for child care

You’ve probably already taken steps in tailoring your home to accommodate your disability. But when the baby’s on the way, you want to make sure your home is safe and allows you to do the new tasks that lay ahead. Make any needed alterations to your bathtub and have any necessary ramps, railings and lifts installed. If you use a wheelchair, make sure to remove any rugs or loose carpeting to prevent the wheels from getting caught. Replacing door knobs with levers may be necessary as well, since doorknobs can be difficult for a wheelchair-bound person to turn. Also, you might want to look into making your home smarter with some of the new technologies offered today.

Get the proper equipment

Along with making modifications to your home, you will probably need to obtain some new equipment. You’ll want to consider daily activities such as night-care, feeding, carrying and transporting your child. Make a list of daily items you will need and start shopping. A side-opening crib, breastfeeding sling, accessible stroller, chest harness carrier and swivel-base car seat are examples of products that work well for parents with disability. There are some baby care products that will work great as designed, but some may need to be modified.

Find and utilize resources

Adapting your environment to make a safe home for your future child can get expensive and exhausting. Luckily, there are private and government-funded organizations that can help. There are several grants available to assist disabled people with financial obligations, medical expenses and equipment. Some of these grants are not widely publicized, so you may have to do some digging. You can also find counseling and organizations that help with daily tasks like cooking, cleaning, and grocery shopping. Do some research and ask around for any resources you can use. Also, if you have family and friends who are willing to help with daily activities, accept their offer without hesitation.

Be realistic

You may have a disability, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be a great parent. It’s important to accept the challenges your disability brings, but it’s vital to take advantage of what you can do. We live in a time when prosthetics, canes, wheelchairs and numerous adaptive technologies are available to help with everyday activities. Accepting your challenges and strengths will help you set realistic goals for parenthood.

There are additional challenges that come with being disabled, but they don’t have to stop you from your dream of having children. Being an adaptive parent with patience and perseverance is the way to go. By applying proper home modifications, finding the right equipment and utilizing resources, you can enjoy the incomparable rewards of raising a child.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Patrick created AbleUSA to offer resources to people with disabilities and offer advice about navigating various aspect of life. 

One Responses

  1. Your comments about self-care really hit home. When I had my son all my self-care habits went out the window. I ended up making two hospital trips because of my neglectful behavior. In order to take care of my son, I had to be willing to take care of myself.

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