Guest Post: Preparing for Parenthood When you Have a Disability- Ashley Taylor

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Like most parents, I was terrified going into parenthood. All of us seek success, and I was overwhelmed with the desire to be an amazing mom. I realized the best thing I could do is try my best and make good strategies. Like any parent, if you have a disability you can establish ways to meet challenges and feel confident about your new adventure.

Prepare your home. Depending on what your limitations are, you will want to make appropriate home preparations. Think about what will make your life easier and improve accessibility. For instance, Redfin suggests many people benefit from an accessible entryway, like replacing steps with a ramp. You can remove thresholds within the home to allow easier movement from room to room. If you use a wheelchair, purchasing expandable hinges for door ways can improve your ability to maneuver. For some parents it’s helpful to install skid-resistant flooring, such as vinyl or linoleum, to prevent slips.

Employ equipment. I discovered there are many ready-made products available to assist you with some of the challenges of everyday parenting. For instance, some experts recommend baby carrying harnesses that you can strap onto your torso. You can find them at almost any baby supplies store, and they allow you to have both hands free. Hook and loop closure bibs are another great innovation. You could also modify a standard baby crib so that the side rotates open or slides out of your way. There are step-by-step instructions available on the

internet to do this yourself, or have a friend or handyman do it for you. Another clever thought, you can alter a baby bathtub with a computer table and dishwasher hose for easier bathing. There are strollers with wheelchair adaptations, and there are security belts to help you carry your little one safely. Some studies show parents with disabilities make their own simple equipment, such as using a scarf as a baby sling or adding wheels to a table for a changing station. Consider putting mirrors under cabinets if you experience trouble viewing countertops. Selecting one room to serve as the playroom is a simple and straightforward solution to many problems – you can set the entire room up with furniture against the walls and anchored to studs, allowing you and your baby to safely play on the floor. Some parents simply leave certain tasks to their partner, such as bathing the baby. Chances are you are used to being creative in solving problems and will handle most challenges well.

Specialized equipment options. You may find customized devices are necessary to ease parenting duties. For instance, the usual tasks such as bathing, feeding, carrying, and changing your baby may be challenging, even with clever equipment. Some researchers recommend partnering with an occupational therapist for navigating mobility issues, especially as your body changes through pregnancy. You may need wheelchair adjustments or other ergonomic alterations. You could also receive consultation on adaptive baby care equipment like specialized slings and carriers, and potential technological solutions like apps and sensors.

You aren’t alone. It’s important to establish a support network and ensure you and your family receive adequate help. As Health Direct explains, recognizing your own limitations and getting assistance when you need it is better than struggling unnecessarily. Your partner, family and friends are the first place to start, and you can engage community resources as well. You may want to join an online support network to exchange ideas or just feel connected with other parents with disabilities. I find bouncing ideas and questions off other parents can really help.

Facing parenthood is a huge deal, but with some careful planning you can feel confident. Prepare your home, find great equipment, and find assistance in your challenges. You’ll be a terrific and successful parent with thoughtful strategies in place!

Ashley Taylor is a freelance writer, photographer, and advocate for people with disabilities. She created DisabledParents.org to provide information and resources to other parents with disabilities. When she isn’t working, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two children.

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