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This article is a guest post from Ashley Taylor at disabledparents.org
Raising a child is a fantastic opportunity to help a little person experience the world. According
to Psychology Today, many children who grow up with disabled parents learn unique and
powerful life lessons that help them be more interdependent and empathetic. If you have
disabilities and are expecting a new baby, you’re about to experience a lot of changes. Here’s
how you can best prepare for them.
1. Research equipment
You’ll be stocking up on a lot of equipment to help you care for your little one. Whatever you
purchase, don’t just go for the first shiny object that comes your way. Look up online reviews for the best products that fit your needs. Look for items that are adaptable and can serve multiple purposes. It’s best to research baby products on a reviews site like this one before dropping a lot of cash on them. Having a baby is expensive, and you want it to be worth it.
2. Make mobility easier
Mobility limitations are one of the most common forms of disability. Having a child can make mobility issues more difficult. If you need more than one wheelchair ramp, there are other less expensive options out there. You will also want an accessible baby bathtub that you can put in a sink. There are also velcro bibs, breastfeeding slings, and other items that can make mobility much easier for you and your child.
3. Check medication effects
When you’re pregnant, you experience a lot of extra symptoms: indigestion, constipation,
infections, and so forth. You’ll even experience regular illnesses that require antibiotics. If you
have to take medication, talk with your doctor about any medication side effects and if they’re
safe during pregnancy. Even for common symptoms, it’s good to know which medications are
safe and which aren’t.
4. Try alternative therapies
If you struggle with mobility, alternative therapy can help. This can be especially useful in
helping your body recover after labor. Some alternative therapy options, such as hydrotherapy, are generally safe and can provide a range of unique physical benefits. It can be calming and help your body recover in an easy way without making you feel any extra pain.
5. Find a strong baby carrier
Carrying a baby is a staple of parenthood, and you don’t want to injure yourself. There are a lot of varieties available for carrying your baby beyond the standard baby carrier. You can have a wrappable shawl to carry your baby around in, or you can buy something to latch onto you. There are even carriers you can attach to your wheelchair.
6. Get a crib attachment
Some cribs can attach to the bed, which makes those nighttime feedings much easier. Sharing
a bed with your baby isn’t really a good idea, but the American Academy of Pediatrics gives their stamp of approval to sleeping in the same room but in different beds. There are also cribs that are wheelchair friendly, if you’d prefer to sleep away from your baby.
7. Consult an occupational therapist
Occupational therapists help people fulfill various social roles or occupations. They help people figure out how to do specific activities, like carry a baby, work out nighttime care routines, and other tasks that pop up when you’re caring for a baby. Try consulting an occupational therapist for at least one session so you at least know what your options are.
Having a baby will naturally come with a lot of stressors. What’s important is that you recognize what you can control. Talk with your doctor about any side effects your medication might have, research the equipment you’re interested in purchasing, and consult an occupational therapist. Parenthood will be a lot less stressful and a lot more rewarding that way.