Straight talk from disabled parents. Parenthood can have an enabling impact on disabled people. Confidence, self-esteem, and personal motivation levels may grow as you discover that you can overcome physical limitations and be as effective and nurturing at parenting as anyone else.
Parenthood also brings couples together in a unique way that enhances the relationship and encourages you to work together as a team. Working together helps disabled parents overcome many of the prevailing social attitudes and stereotypes through which people still tend to view disabled parents. It’s in that spirit of teamwork that couples need to come together to prepare for what will be the most challenging and rewarding experience of their married lives.
Here are four important considerations for creating a safe and convenient environment for your newborn when you’re disabled…as told by our friends at disabledparents.org
Consult with Health Professionals
Begin by consulting with your doctor and a maternity nurse to talk through some of the hurdles you’ll confront. Health practitioners can help you understand the ramifications of what you’ll face as parents, and begin the process of preparing for the unique challenges that you, as a couple dealing with a disability, will need to address before bringing your child home. Most importantly, you’ll learn how to plan ahead in light of your disabilities.
A Well-Prepared Environment
Every expectant parent needs to carefully childproof their home. Disabled parents need to think through everything as they prepare their home for parenthood and how to deal with any physical and mobility limitations. As is always the case where little ones are involved, safety is your first concern.
Make sure that all fire detection and prevention items are working and easily accessible. If you don’t have a fire extinguisher at home, you’ll need to purchase one, know how to use it, and keep it where it’s easy to get to. Be sure that there are smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on every floor and make sure they’re working properly.
Heavy objects that aren’t secured to the wall constitute a potentially lethal danger to your child, so make sure that all bookcases, heavy furniture, television stands, entertainment centers, and large decorative items are well anchored. Make certain that your furniture and tables have soft corner guards, and install safety latches on all cabinets. Get into the habit of locking medications and cleaning fluids securely away. Keep any dangling electrical cords or drapery pulls safely attached to the floor or walls. All stairways should be blocked off with security gates, securely bolted to the wall, not spring-loaded.
If You Have Dogs…
You’ll also need to take steps to prepare your dogs for the new arrival. Well before the baby makes his or her debut, relocate your dog’s belongings to an area of the home that won’t interfere with your maneuverability when you’re carrying an eight pound bundle. When you bring your new son or daughter home, allow your dog to get close; he’ll be curious, and that’s okay as long as he respects boundaries and doesn’t show any aggression toward the baby. If your dog’s manners aren’t what they should be, consult a professional animal trainer. Many offer programs specifically for parents of newborns. Dogman Mark and his team have created an exclusive Baby Program to help canines and their newborn parents prepare for their new life.
Key Childcare Duties
As parents, you’ll be changing lots of diapers, giving lots of baths, and holding a fussy baby several times a day (and night). If your disability makes mobility an issue, consider keeping the baby crib or child bed near your bed. That way, those frequent diaper changes and feedings will be a lot easier.
Bathing can be a particularly tricky task for any parent. Try setting up a sufficiently large, plastic container on a table that’s within easy reach. Consider bathing your child together. Carrying a baby or small child can also be tricky, so consider using a chest harness baby carrier if you’re in a wheelchair.
Remember, your living environment needs to be a readily accessible space. You may need to replace entry points with an access ramp, install expandable hinges on doorways to make them wheelchair accessible, and install slip-resistant flooring.
Try to think through parenting needs within the context of your physical challenges. That way, you’ll create a safer and healthier living space for your child and a more convenient home for you as a parent. Remember always to take a team approach to parenting.
Need an assistance dog to help you meet your daily needs? The professionals at Pro-Train KNOW Dogs…and owner, Mark Castillero has trained over 10,000 dogs in his career.