Getting your life and your home ready to welcome a baby into the world can feel daunting. You know this big change is coming, and you have months to prepare, but it’s hard to know exactly what to expect. That feeling rings true especially for parents who have a disability, whether that is a physical disability, vision or hearing impairment, or mental health difficulties. Just like any other expectant parents, the best thing you can do is find resources now so you know where to turn for answers.
Read Up and Tap Into Resources
The world is full of parenting books on every possible topic related to raising a child. Those are great for parenting basics, but for parents with disabilities, you can benefit even more from resources that connect you with information geared toward your unique needs. People approach parenting from all walks of life, and of course you will find your own parenting philosophy that fits your beliefs and lifestyle. But parenting when you have a disability comes with its own set of challenges (and advantages), and resources that focus on your needs can give you specific ideas for handling those challenges. These are just a few of the myriad resources that can be found online. Use these as a springboard for finding your own community:
For physical disabilities – Through the Looking Glass
For visual impairment – the Blind Parenting Series from VisionAware
For hearing impairment – Deaf Parents section from Vicdeaf
Get Your Home Ready
The biggest challenges for any parent with a disability are day-to-day childcare needs and making sure your home is safe, for both you and little ones. Parents magazine recommends looking at the big picture to see what safety concerns there may be throughout your home, and then go through room by room and babyproof. Besides the safety basics, you may want to make some home modifications that will make baby care easier and safer.
For example, parents with any physical limitations may want to install grab bars in tubs and showers to make bathing children easier. Parents who have a visual impairment may find it helpful to label children’s food containers with textured tape or braille labels so that meal preparation goes more smoothly. And when it comes to safety, consider using non-slip rugs and mats to prevent trip hazards. Some of these needs are universal, while others will apply to different families depending on your abilities and limitations, so consult a guide to home modifications to get the best ideas for your family.
Make a Smooth Transition
Once your home is all set up, and you’ve read all the best parenting resources, you still need to prepare those little things for the first few weeks to make the transition to parenthood as smooth as possible. The reality is that new moms need to be prepared to care for themselves just as much as they care for babies. Preparedness Mama has an excellent list of postpartum needs, as well as an important reminder that your emotional needs are right up there with your physical needs. Plan on leaning on your support network, whether that means asking a relative to come stay for a few days or asking friends to help with meals right after the baby is born.
Parenting resources for people with disabilities can also help you prepare for the emotional roller coaster of adjusting to life as a parent. Being a parent with a disability involves certain challenges of course, but there are also benefits that only come from your unique situation. For example, some deaf parents with hearing children have developed a stronger bond with their children based on the trust they’ve built through learning to communicate with each other.
Preparing for this roller coaster of emotions, along with preparing your home and connecting to resources, will help make the transition to parenthood easier. That doesn’t mean it will always be easy—parenthood is full of ups and downs for everyone! But it helps to be connected to other parents who understand what you’re going through and to remember that the joys outweigh the difficulties.
Photo credit: Pexels
For more support for parents with disabilities, please visit http://disabledparents.org/must-haves-for-parents-with-disabilities/