Parenting with a disability can feel like dealing with two huge challenges at once, which can, of course, be extremely intimidating. Even if you have learned to adapt your day-to-day life to your disability, a child can throw this sense of routine way off course.
So, what can you do to make this easier? Quite a few things, as it turns out. According to the National Council on Disability, 4.1 million of U.S. parents are disabled. This means that there are millions of people out there who have gone through the same thing, and there is a wealth of resources to guide you. Here are a few ways you can leverage these resources and start preparing.
Find Ways to Make Pregnancy Easier
Pregnancy is difficult on the body for all expecting mothers, but depending on your disability, you may find it takes even more of a toll. Women with disabilities affecting their joints, balance, or general mobility may experience pain and discomfort as the baby grows, but there are several methods that can help with this. Hydrotherapy, for instance, has been shown to be useful for pregnant women with arthritis, while a good physiotherapist can help prepare your body for delivery. Ask your GP or obstetrician about any possible pain management services.
Make Home Modifications
You will probably be very familiar with any accessibility shortcomings in your house and will have learned ways to work around them. However, with a small child, these workarounds can become impractical or downright dangerous. Wherever possible, you should commit to making home modifications that make your home an easier place to navigate. These can include installing ramps, expanding door hinges, and putting down slip-resistant flooring. Consider hiring a local handyman for these projects. Remember that you may be eligible for a disability grant to cover some of the costs.
Plan for the Future
If home modifications aren’t an option due to living in an apartment complex or rental house, now is the perfect time to start planning ahead for a home of your own. Especially if you need adaptations that will make it easier for you to navigate your home with a baby. While there are grants and programs to help you make a purchase, it’s still a good idea to save up for a down payment. Anything you can put toward the purchase of your home can make a big difference. Some easy ways to save money are through a strict budget, limiting expenses, cutting down debt and adding money to your savings. Before too long, you’ll have enough to help you get into the home of your dreams.
Research Accessible Accessories
Disabled parents have a wide range of products to choose from when it comes to baby basics like cribs, changing stations, and feeding accessories. If you’re worried about the cost of special items, you can sometimes make your own accessible baby furniture with a bit of DIY. For instance, this guide shows you how to transform a regular baby cot into an accessible one for parents in a wheelchair. In fact, most people with disabilities know that ingenuity and creativity can often get you further than money when it comes to practical solutions for everyday challenges — parenting is no different.
Find Ways to Naturally Boost Your Energy
Having a child will take a lot out of you, so it’s important to find ways to naturally boost your energy levels so you can keep up with your child. One important thing that parents often forget to do throughout the day is to drink lots of water. If you can, purchase a reusable water bottle and keep it topped off so you’ll always have something to sip nearby. Also, you should make sure you get as much sleep as possible, although you’ll no doubt have some trouble with this step when your bundle of joy first gets home — and for a few months after that! Finally, look into an all-natural supplement, though it’s important to discuss this with your doctor beforehand.
There are plenty of resources out there that can help you through pregnancy and parenthood. The Disabled Parenting Project has extensive advice and information, as well as an active community of parents with disabilities you can ask questions to and get support from. You can also find plenty of blogs and stories online about how other parents have dealt with disability, which can be both inspirational and informative.
Parenting with a disability is not always easy, but you are not the first one to go through it — and you are most definitely not alone. Your GP should give you plenty of guidance when it comes to the healthcare side of things, while online community forums and disability organizations can help you with the day-to-day realities of parenthood. These resources will support you during this exciting and life-changing time in your life, and soon you will be the one providing some helpful guidance to an expecting disabled parent.