Parenting While Disabled: What Expecting Mums Ought to Know.
You don’t let your disability stop you from achieving what you want in life, and parenthood is no different. Now that you’ve made the decision to leap into parenthood, you have a lot of planning and preparation to do. These are some of the biggest issues to think about as you get ready to welcome your first child.
If you’re like many people with disabilities, you live on a modest income. Adding a child to the mix tightens the budget even more. That’s not to say it’s not doable or worthwhile — tons of parents at every income level make it work and give their kids lovely childhoods! But you have to be intentional about finances in order to pay the bills today and plan for the future.
Revisit your family budget and update the numbers to reflect what your new baby will cost. What to Expect has some numbers to get you started. In addition to baby care costs, factor the cost of life insurance into your budget. While singles can get by without it, life insurance is a must for parents.
Coping with Pregnancy
Some women glow during pregnancy. For the rest of us, pregnancy is full of ups and downs. It’s amazing to feel your baby move and kick, but morning sickness, back pain, and exhaustion? Not so amazing.
Pregnancy can worsen symptoms of your disability. You may have less energy, more pain, and face new mobility challenges as your baby grows. Some women are advised to go on bed rest — and while it’s totally frustrating to lay around for weeks, it’s important to listen to your doctor. Be patient with yourself, practice lots of self-care, and lean on your partner for extra support during pregnancy.
Also check out: The Realistic Truth About Life With A New Baby.
Parenting while disabled is tough enough without your home getting in the way. Fix any accessibility issues around the house now, before your movement is encumbered by a third-trimester belly or a wriggling newborn.
Replacing steps with a ramp is an easy choice; even without a mobility issue to consider, getting a stroller in and out of the house is much easier without stairs to contend with. Wider doorways is another smart call, and you don’t have to knock down any walls to do it. With expandable hinges, you can add a couple of inches to doorways and make toting a baby much easier. You can find more suggestions for accessibility modifications at this resource.
Adaptive Baby Care
When you’re becoming a parent, everyone wants to tell you the best way to do this or that. But when you are parenting while disabled, the advice of friends and family (and unfortunately, strangers!) doesn’t always apply. Instead, look for tips from other parents with disabilities. AbleThrive’s #ThisIsHowI video series showcases the creative adaptations parents with disabilities use to accomplish everyday tasks. You can find the videos and more parenting resources here.
You’ll also want to find the right adaptive childcare products. There are some adaptive and adaptable products that parents with disabilities swear by, like sling wraps, side-opening cribs, and wheelchair-accessible strollers. Shop around and try products in person whenever possible — hands-on practice is the best way to learn if a product works for you.
There’s no shame in asking for help if it allows you to be a better parent. Friends and family are one great source of assistance, but they’re not the only option for support. You can hire a housekeeper to relieve your workload, an occupational therapist to discuss adaptive solutions, or a personal assistant to lend a hand with baby care. You’re not any less of a parent if you need extra help — in fact, recognising when you can’t do it all yourself is a sure sign of a great mum!
Parents come in all shapes and sizes, disabilities included. While it sometimes feels lonely parenting while disabled, the truth is that there are millions of disabled parents out there raising healthy, happy kids. With a great support system, helpful resources, and advice from other parents with disabilities, you can welcome your child feeling ready for the journey ahead.