Today, my guest writer, Ashley Taylor, is writing to support those with disabilities who want to have children, read on!
What Anyone With A Disability Needs To Know About Becoming A Parent
Babies don’t come with an instruction manual, so it’s understandable why new parents have the jitters for the first few weeks. Among the scenarios that cause nervousness, fear of tripping or dropping the baby tops the list — this is likely top of mind for parents with disabilities, too. But considering there are approximately 4.1 million disabled adults managing parenthood, you’re not exactly exploring uncharted territory. With a little preparation and self-care, you’ll be able to begin the next chapter of your life with confidence and safety.
Make Any Necessary Home Modifications
It’s likely that you already have some home modifications in place, but just in case, projects that can help a parent with a disability include:
- Expandable hinges to widen doorways for easier wheelchair accessibility
- Replacing steps with a ramp
- Placing safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs
- Installing skid-resistant flooring to prevent slips
- Creating a clutter-free playroom with anchored furniture
- Making kitchen countertops and the stove at an accessible height
- Installing a loop lever faucet in the bathroom to make it easier to use from a distance
- Keeping cleaning and changing essentials on a rolling cart so they’re easy to access at all times
- If lower, specialty cribs are too expensive, do a DIY version by cutting the legs off a regular crib and then placing it on risers
Make Time To Relax
Numerous studies indicate that stress and (in some cases) depression can kick in after the baby is born. Finding time to relax — even just five to ten minutes a day — can make the difference between a slightly stressful day and an unbearable one. Even just five to ten minutes a day can help. The same techniques that are used to help relax individuals with a disability can be applied to parenthood. From visualization and meditation to yoga and self-hypnosis, here are several options available to you.
Before baby arrives, make sure there’s an area in your home that you can designate specifically for downtime. Outfit the space with oxygen-rich plants, drapes and wall coverings in soothing tones, a dimmer switch for lighting and a comfortable piece of furniture to rest on.
Don’t Neglect Self-Care
While you’ll be busier than ever after your little one arrives, don’t use that as an excuse to neglect self-care. Work with your spouse/partner on a schedule so you can take time to go to exercise, return phone calls, or meet a friend.
Another important factor that sometimes falls to the wayside with parenting is personal hygiene, to include brushing and flossing, bathing, doing your hair, and getting dressed — even if you don’t leave the house. From a psychological standpoint, you’ll feel better about yourself while feeling prepared to take on the day with confidence.
Eat For Energy — And Stress-Relief
What you put in your body affects what you’ll be able to handle physically and mentally, which is crucial for anyone let alone a busy parent. When considering what to eat, don’t neglect nutritious foods including nuts, red peppers, oatmeal, spinach and salmon as they also have stress-relieving benefits.
While you may want to handle everything on your own, don’t be afraid to ask for help — and don’t feel guilty for doing so. Along with tapping your loved ones, make sure you’re aware of the resources available to you as a disabled parent, to include everything from financial support to support groups where you can share your feelings and frustrations.
You’re embarking on an exciting journey so take care of yourself so you can effectively take care of your baby.
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.